Bloomberg is reporting the Head of Xbox has addressed the ongoing sh**storm with Activision Blizzard with the employees at Microsoft.
Phil Spencer and the leadership at Xbox are “disturbed and deeply troubled by the horrific events and actions” at Activision Blizzard Inc., according to an email seen by Bloomberg News.
The internal email is referring to the Wall Street Journal article that dropped earlier this week outlining CEO Bobby Kotick’s knowledge and perpetuation of sexual harassment at Activision Blizzard Inc. in addition to his own mistreatment of women at the company.
Bobby Kotick has himself been accused of mistreating women who worked for him, including telling a former assistant in a voicemail that he would have her killed. pic.twitter.com/4p2MAjaqNO
— Ben Fritz (@benfritz) November 16, 2021
“This type of behavior has no place in our industry,” Spencer wrote.
Sony CEO Jim Ryan reportedly critiqued Activision Blizzard’s response to the article earlier this week saying in an internal email he was “disheartened and frankly stunned to read” the article published by the Wall Street Journal.
“We outreached to Activision immediately after the article was published to express our deep concern and to ask how they plan to address the claims made in the article,” Bloomberg reports Ryan said in an email. “We do not believe their statements of response properly address the situation.”
— Jordan Maison (@JordanMaison) November 16, 2021
As of Thursday, at least 1,000 Activision Blizzard employees across all studios and departments have signed a petition to kick Kotick to the curb.
“We, the undersigned, no longer have confidence in the leadership of Bobby Kotick as the CEO of Activision Blizzard,” the petition reads. “The information that has come to light about his behaviors and practices in the running of our companies runs counter to the culture and integrity we require of our leadership–and directly conflicts with the initiatives started by our peers. We ask that Bobby Kotick remove himself as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and that shareholders be allowed to select the new CEO without the input of Bobby, who we are aware owns a substantial portion of the voting rights of the shareholders.”
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that shareholders led by the Strategic Organizing Center Investment Group sent a letter to the board of directors requesting that Kotick and board chairman Brian Kelly and lead independent director Robert Morgado retire by December 31.
“In contrast to past company statements, CEO Bobby Kotick was aware of many incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault and gender discrimination at Activision Blizzard, but failed either to ensure that the executives and managers responsible were terminated or to recognize and address the systematic nature of the company’s hostile workplace culture,” the letter said.
If the three men do not step down by the end of the year, the shareholders wrote, they have plans to not vote in favor of reelection of the current directors on the board at the next annual shareholder meeting in June and would urge other shareholders to follow suit.
“After the new revelations, it’s clear that the current leadership repeatedly failed to uphold a safe workplace — a basic function of their job,” SOC executive director Dieter Waizenegger told the Washington Post. “Activision Blizzard needs a new CEO, board chair and lead independent director with the expertise, skill set and conviction to truly change the company’s culture. We need to really have a reset button on the board.”
Waizenegger said the SOC would like to see the two board positions with “diverse directors” and that at least one of the seats should go to a non-executive Activision Blizzard employee.
Activision Blizzard is facing a lawsuit filed in July by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, is currently under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and is facing a class action lawsuit filed in August from shareholders that allege a violation of federal securities law. The company is also facing an unfair labor practice complaint filed by Activision Blizzard employees and the Communications Workers of America.