Activision CEO Bobby Kotick allegedly knew about sexual misconduct for years

A former assistant for Bobby Kotick alleges that he threatened to have her killed in 2006

Content warning: This story contains description of alleged sexual assault.

A new report alleges that not only has Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick been aware of sexual misconduct claims within the company since 2018, he reportedly told his assistant that he would “have her killed” in a voicemail left in 2006.

A report by the Wall Street Journal alleges that in 2018, Kotick was informed via email that a female employee had been raped in 2016 and, in 2017, pressured by a male supervisor to drink too much alcohol within the office and other work events.

The victim reached an out-of-court settlement with Activision, however Kotick did not tell Activision’s board of directors anything about the settlement or alleged rape.

The Wall Street Journal adds that Kotick allegedly continued to keep knowledge of the event to himself even after state regulators started investigating the company in 2018.

The report also suggests that Bobby Kotick has played a first-hand part in the culture that has embroiled Activision in sexual harassment lawsuits and investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. Image credit: Getty Images
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. Image credit: Getty Images

In 2006, Kotick allegedly left a voicemail on his assistant’s phone threatening to “have her killed”, say people familiar with it happening. An Activision spokesperson addressed it with a following statement:

“Mr. Kotick quickly apologized 16 years ago for the obviously hyperbolic and inappropriate voice mail, and he deeply regrets the exaggeration and tone in his voice mail to this day.”

The spokesperson also addressed claims that Kotick knew of sexual misconduct reports:

“Mr. Kotick would not have been informed of every report of misconduct at every Activision Blizzard company, nor would he reasonably be expected to have been updated on all personnel issues”.

Activision Blizzard Office
Credit: Activision Blizzard

It’s also reported that Kotick intervened to prevent Treyarch co-head Dan Bunting from being fired, after he was accused of sexual harassment in 2017.

In August, Jen Oneal – who stepped down as Activision Blizzard co-head just months after taking the job – expressed concern with a member of Activision’s legal team, stating that “it was clear that the company would never prioritise our people the right way”.

Oneal also said she had been sexually harassed earlier in her career within Activision and that she was paid less than fellow co-head Mike Ybarra. In the email, Oneal added that she has “been tokenised, marginalised, and discriminated against”.

As highlighted by Stephen Totilo on Twitter, Kotick stands to make a maximum of £218,109,094.62 ($292,970,341) if fired from Activision Blizzard “without cause or termination by employee for good reason following a change of control.”

If terminated by Activision Blizzard “for cause”, Kotick will still be paid £196,918 ($264,524).

At time of writing, Bobby Kotick remains CEO at Activision Blizzard.

Following The Wall Street Journal‘s article, Kotick has released a statement that says today’s news “paints an inaccurate and misleading view of our company, of me personally, and my leadership”.

The CEO also said that “anyone who doubts my conviction to be the most welcoming, inclusive workplace doesn’t really appreciate how important this is to me”. You can read the full statement here.

For help, advice or more information regarding sexual harassment, assault and rape in the UK, visit the Rape Crisis charity website. In the US, visit RAINN.

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