After yesterday’s troubling report from the Wall Street Journal about Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and his alleged knowledge of extensive abuses and discrimination, some have been calling on the CEO to resign. The company’s board released a statement declaring it stands behind Kotick. Today, a small group of shareholders are calling not just for Kotick’s resignation, but members of the board to also step down and for change to happen on the company level.
The group in question, known as the Strategic Organizing Center Investment Group, and holders of 4.8 million shares of the company’s stock, is asking for Kotick to resign and for some of the oldest serving directors on the board, Brian Kelly and Robert Morgado to retire by the end of the year. Kelly serves as chairman of the board of directors and Morgado is the lead independent director. For pledging confidence in Bobby Kotick’s leadership and ability to keep Activision Blizzard on the right track, with its announced zero tolerance policy and proposed changes, The SOC is threatening to withhold or oppose re-election for the board members at the next shareholder meeting in June.
While the group is small, and represents less than 1% of shares, their stance does have some power behind it, and this move should not be dismissed. The SOC is known for having a more activist event, since it represents a series of labor unions in the US. In a statement by the SOC executive director, Dieter Waizenegger, to The Washington Post, he says that Activision Blizzard needs new leadership to truly change. Adding that votes against directors are rare, and usually taken in light of serious failed leadership (or something criminal). The decision to push forward here is based on the allegations against Kotick, lack of faith in leadership, as well as ongoing investigations and lawsuits regarding the company's employment practices and workplace culture.
UPDATE: In an email to staff, Sony‘s PlayStation chief, Jim Ryan, criticized Activision Blizzard’s response to the allegations and expressed a lack of faith in the company’s ability to properly address the situation. Bloomberg's Jason Schreier also noted that Ryan reportedly contacted Activision Blizzard asking how they intended to more forward.
NEW: PlayStation boss Jim Ryan slammed Activision Blizzard this morning, writing in an email to staff that he was "disheartened and frankly stunned" by this week's news. "We do not believe their statements of response properly address the situation." https://t.co/78mvdvqZzs— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) November 17, 2021