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Bobby Kotick Asks Board for Reduced Salary in a Letter Sent to Employees

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Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick today sent a letter to all employees, where he talks about the launch of a zero-tolerance harassment policy company-wide, an increase of woman and non-binary people in their workforce by 50%, and his salary reduction to the lowest amount California law will allow for people earning a salary, which is $62,500.

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SANTA MONICA, Calif., October 28, 2021--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) CEO Bobby Kotick today sent the following letter to all employees.

October 28, 2021

A few weeks ago, I reiterated our commitment to become the most welcoming, inclusive company in our industry. Today, I want to update you on some initial progress and important, additional steps we are taking to advance our commitment with greater impact, transparency, and urgency.

First, I want to offer my sincere gratitude for your continued focus and dedication to our players – and to each other. You’ve shown incredible resilience throughout the pandemic, exceptional care for colleagues and communities, and the relentless commitment to excellence, creative independence, and purpose that always sets our company – and our franchises – apart. During a tremendously challenging time for so many people, you’ve continued to bring joy and connection to our players and communities around the world.

My goal – and the goal of our Board, our entire senior corporate team, our business unit leaders, and their teams – is to make sure you have the resources, culture, and commitment from leadership you need to succeed in our collective aspiration to be the model workplace in our industry.

Over the last decade, as we’ve brought in new companies, grown our workforce, and expanded our business, we believed we had the systems, policies, and people in place to ensure that our company always lived up to its reputation as a great place to work. Clearly, in some vitally important aspects, we didn’t.

The guardrails weren’t in place everywhere to ensure that our values were being upheld. In some cases, people didn’t consistently feel comfortable reporting concerns, or their concerns weren’t always addressed promptly or properly. People were deeply let down and, for that, I am truly sorry.

Being welcoming and inclusive, in the context of our workplace, is crystal clear. We will still passionately debate ideas, employ healthy skepticism when appropriate, and demand excellence and rigor in all of our pursuits – but we will always treat each other with dignity and respect. And regardless of differences, voices will be heard, perspectives welcomed, and contributions valued.

We are a business fueled by passion and performance. These are cornerstones of our creative excellence but we must constantly recognize, embrace, and celebrate that the very best ideas, the most rigorous execution of those ideas, and ultimately our responsibility to our players and each other are best served by a culture that recognizes and respects that true excellence comes from diverse views, voices, and talents.

We’ve made progress over the last few years fostering that diversity and creating a better work environment – a commitment that has improved in scope and speed in recent months. We’ve tripled our investment in anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training; we’ve made meaningful organizational changes; and we’ve substantially increased resources for reporting and carefully investigating improper behavior.

The EEOC’s investigative process, public discussion on discrimination and harassment, and your reports and suggestions helped shine a light on practices we need to improve, policies that need to be strengthened, and resources we are now adding. The EEOC’s review was a catalyst to sharpen our focus on the ways we can become a company others emulate as a model for workplace excellence and one with an unwavering commitment to its values.

We have a lot more to do if we are to be the company that others emulate.

I want to share five new changes we are implementing, but recognize being a model for workplace excellence will be a dynamic process requiring additional changes and an unrelenting commitment to improvement.

  1. We are launching a new zero-tolerance harassment policy company-wide – In the past, when we discovered and substantiated harassment, we terminated some employees and provided verbal or written warnings or different disciplinary actions to others. In retrospect, to achieve our goals for workplace excellence, this approach is no longer adequate. We need tougher rules and consistent monitoring across the entire company to make sure reports are being handled correctly and discipline is appropriate and swift.

    As a result, we are implementing a zero-tolerance policy across Activision Blizzard that will be applied consistently. Our goal is to have the strictest harassment and non-retaliation policies of any employer, and we will continue to examine and tighten our standards to achieve this goal everywhere we do business.

    Any Activision Blizzard employee found through our new investigative processes and resources to have retaliated against anyone for making a compliance complaint will be terminated immediately.

    In many other instances of workplace misconduct, we will no longer rely on written warnings: termination will be the outcome, including in most cases of harassment based on any legally protected category.

    Future employment contracts and equity awards will be clear: termination for these reasons will result in the immediate forfeiture of future compensation.

    We also want to ensure that employees who file reports are encouraged, protected, and heard. For all reports of harassment and retaliation, we will investigate the allegation and whether the Activision Blizzard personnel who received the report of such behavior took the appropriate steps to protect the integrity of our compliance processes.

    There may be some places around the world where local law may restrict some of these measures. In those cases, we will apply the highest permissible standards and the strongest possible discipline.

  2. We will increase the percentage of women and non-binary people in our workforce by 50% and will invest $250 million to accelerate opportunities for diverse talent –Today, approximately 23% of our global employee population identifies as women or non-binary. Building on the success that King and other business units have achieved, we will seek to increase our percentage of women and non-binary professionals by approximately 50% – to more than one-third across the entire company – within the next five years and hopefully faster. Each franchise team, business unit, and functional area will be expected to have plans to help fulfill this ambition.

    With respect to diversity, while we perform better than our peers with 30% of our U.S. workforce from diverse or under-represented communities, broadening this progress will continue to be a significant focus of mine as well as company, business unit, and franchise leadership.

    To further this commitment, we’ll be investing an additional $250 million over the next 10 years in initiatives that foster expanded opportunities in gaming and technology for under-represented communities. This commitment includes inspiring diverse talent to pursue career opportunities in gaming through an ABK Academy that includes partnerships with colleges and technical schools serving under-represented communities, mentorships for participants, and a rotating apprenticeship program that leads to game development jobs, similar to the programs we began with the United Negro College Fund and Management Leadership for Tomorrow. We will also provide learning, development, and advanced degree opportunities for current employees to increase the number of women and those from under-represented communities in leadership positions across the company and in our industry.

    In the coming months, Brian Bulatao, Julie Hodges, and I will share details about how we are operationalizing these goals and implementing and measuring this expanded investment.

  3. Based on feedback from employees, we are waiving required arbitration of sexual harassment and discrimination claims – For any Activision Blizzard employee who chooses not to arbitrate an individual claim of sexual harassment, unlawful discrimination, or related retaliation arising in the future, the company will waive any obligation to do so.

  4. We will continue to increase visibility on pay equity – As described in the recent note from our President, Daniel Alegre, and our Chief Administrative Officer, Brian Bulatao, the company continues to focus on pay equity for employees. In fact, our U.S. analysis showed that women at the company on average earned slightly more than men for comparable work in 2020. To ensure transparency on our continuing commitment to pay equity, we will report these results annually.

  5. We will provide regular progress updates – We will be monitoring the progress of our business units, franchise teams, and functional leaders with respect to workplace initiatives and we will provide a status report quarterly. We also will be adding a dedicated focus on this vital work in our annual report to shareholders and in our annual ESG report with information on gender hiring, diversity hiring, and workplace progress.

Specifics on how these measures will be implemented and tracked will be forthcoming.

Lastly, I want to ensure that every available resource is being used in the service of becoming the industry leader in workplace excellence. Accordingly, I have asked our Board of Directors to reduce my total compensation until the Board has determined that we have achieved the transformational gender-related goals and other commitments described above. Specifically, I have asked the Board to reduce my pay to the lowest amount California law will allow for people earning a salary, which this year is $62,500. To be clear, this is a reduction in my overall compensation, not just my salary. I am asking not to receive any bonuses or be granted any equity during this time.

There’s a tendency when companies face challenging moments to lose sight of what makes them special, what makes them great. You are a truly special group of people who – through passion, conviction, drive, and determination – keep accomplishing extraordinary things. While the critical work ahead won’t be easy, I am confident our collective commitment to workplace excellence will be achieved.

I truly wish not a single employee had had an experience at work that resulted in hurt, humiliation, or worse – and to those who were affected, I sincerely apologize. You have my commitment that we will do everything possible to honor our values and create the workplace every member of this team deserves.

I am grateful for how much people care about this company, and I appreciate that many past and present employees have reached out with their thoughts, concerns, complaints, and suggestions. Your experiences, so courageously shared, serve as reason and reminder for why it is so important for us to do better. And we will.

With thanks and deepest gratitude,
Bobby

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This press release may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. We may, in some cases, use terms such as "predicts," "believes," "potential," "proposed," "continue," "estimates," "anticipates," "expects," "plans," "intends," "may," "could," "might," "will," "should" or other words that convey uncertainty of future events or outcomes to identify these forward-looking statements. Such statements are subject to numerous important factors, risks and uncertainties that may cause actual events or results to differ materially from the Company’s current expectations. These and other risks are described in the Company’s periodic reports, including the annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K, filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission and available at www.sec.gov. Any forward-looking statements that the Company makes in this press release speak only as of the date of this press release. The Company assumes no obligation to update forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, after the date of this press release.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20211028005446/en/

Contacts

Investors and Analysts:
[email protected]
or
Press:
[email protected]

Source: Yahoo

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OK these seem substantial, especially the removal of forced arbitration on several cases (though there is still no blanket removal of forced arbitration).

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The fact that Francis Townsend is still in employment as vice president of corporate affairs and chief compliance officer after trying to shut the employees up and denounce the lawsuit as fake and ungrounded kind of sucks the credibility out of these things for me.

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Hiring women for the point of having women in the company is absurd!
The people with the right skill should be hired, despite their gender, but ignoring all male applicants is absolutely absurd and anti-equality!

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51 minutes ago, Devylknyght said:

People should only be hired based on their ability to do the job. 

Agreed!! That’s a stupid clause, to commit to hiring a certain percentage of one demographic, simply to fill the demographic check box. People should be hired for the ability to the job required, as well as what else they can bring to the company. 

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48 minutes ago, Calin said:

Hiring women for the point of having women in the company is absurd!
The people with the right skill should be hired, despite their gender, but ignoring all male applicants is absolutely absurd and anti-equality!

Once again, they do not give a single F about quality or equality, only business. Do not trust their words, judge them by their actions.

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1 hour ago, Calin said:

Hiring women for the point of having women in the company is absurd!
The people with the right skill should be hired, despite their gender, but ignoring all male applicants is absolutely absurd and anti-equality!

Welcome to the modern world, where people preaching "equality" do not understand the meaning of the word.

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52 minutes ago, Calin said:

Hiring women for the point of having women in the company is absurd!
The people with the right skill should be hired, despite their gender, but ignoring all male applicants is absolutely absurd and anti-equality!

There are two different types of equality involved.

One, your expressed preference, is equality of opportunity. Presumably, everyone has the same chance to excel. Unfortunately, many don't make it because of inherent, even unconscious bias, or various other systemic imbalances. It has resulted in the heavily segregated workforce we have.

The second is equality of outcome. This means we focus on the end result - a diverse workforce - and aggressively seek qualified candidates in under-represented populations. Good diversity has been shown to make companies strong and resilient, able to comprehend and respond well to a wider variety of customer needs.

This does not mean "ignoring all male applicants". This kind of program works not by excluding, but by specifically targeting minority populations much harder for recruitment and promotion.

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1 minute ago, solitha said:

There are two different types of equality involved.

One, your expressed preference, is equality of opportunity. Presumably, everyone has the same chance to excel. Unfortunately, many don't make it because of inherent, even unconscious bias, or various other systemic imbalances. It has resulted in the heavily segregated workforce we have.

The second is equality of outcome. This means we focus on the end result - a diverse workforce - and aggressively seek qualified candidates in under-represented populations. Good diversity has been shown to make companies strong and resilient, able to comprehend and respond well to a wider variety of customer needs.

This does not mean "ignoring all male applicants". This kind of program works not by excluding, but by specifically targeting minority populations much harder for recruitment and promotion.

Nice to have at least one salient voice in here… besides the infantile anti-sjw holes.

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1 minute ago, solitha said:

There are two different types of equality involved.

One, your expressed preference, is equality of opportunity. Presumably, everyone has the same chance to excel. Unfortunately, many don't make it because of inherent, even unconscious bias, or various other systemic imbalances. It has resulted in the heavily segregated workforce we have.

The second is equality of outcome. This means we focus on the end result - a diverse workforce - and aggressively seek qualified candidates in under-represented populations. Good diversity has been shown to make companies strong and resilient, able to comprehend and respond well to a wider variety of customer needs.

This does not mean "ignoring all male applicants". This kind of program works not by excluding, but by specifically targeting minority populations much harder for recruitment and promotion.

America is the Land of Opportunity. Not the Land of Outcome. 

They call them Equal Opportunity Laws for a reason, not Equal Outcome Laws. 

What you call "inherent, even unconscious bias, or various other systemic imbalances" is actually just LIFE. EVERYONE has advantages and disadvantages. That is why it is important to focus on the best person for the job, and not just look for the biggest victims. 

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3 hours ago, Migol said:

The fact that Francis Townsend is still in employment as vice president of corporate affairs and chief compliance officer after trying to shut the employees up and denounce the lawsuit as fake and ungrounded kind of sucks the credibility out of these things for me.

100%, she should have been "released". I also kind of hate the language they are using. Sure, inclusivity can be an issue, but lawsuit was about harassment and terrible working conditions. Yet, they keep mentioning it. One can be harassed by a diverse group of people too, it doesn't change much.

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A significant imbalance in the demographics of a workforce is a clear sign that hiring has not been based on “merit”.

Us straight white dudes are not inherently any better than any other class of people at this work. And yet we make up a large majority of the workforce (I say this as someone who started as a coder in the software development industry a few decades ago).

The systemic oppression in our society has privileged us above others—not for merit, but simply for being born white and male. In a society, like ours, built on oppression, it takes active measures (like so-called “equity hiring”) to counter the biases and move us toward a system where we are actually hiring the best people for the job.

Blizz has a long, long, way to go to get to anything resembling a well-balanced and equitable (in both “opportunity” and “outcome”) workforce. I hope the positive sentiments in the above official statement actually translate into substantive efforts.

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2 hours ago, Calin said:

Hiring women for the point of having women in the company is absurd!
The people with the right skill should be hired, despite their gender, but ignoring all male applicants is absolutely absurd and anti-equality!

They aren’t hiring women for the point of hiring women. What they are doing is saying, when they are given, for example, two equal applicants and one is male and one is female, they will opt to hire the woman to work towards inclusion of women in an industry that has primarily favoured and been dominated by men for decades. 

Blizzard will not be turning down an applicant for the soul purpose of hiring a woman who is less qualified. If you cannot comprehend and understand this, then you are part of the problem. All of the same principles should apply to the hiring of LGBTQIA+ in the industry… 

They are not trying to hire “less men” they are trying to hire a more equal representation of all kinds of people. 

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1 hour ago, Trest said:

A significant imbalance in the demographics of a workforce is a clear sign that hiring has not been based on “merit”.

Us straight white dudes are not inherently any better than any other class of people at this work. And yet we make up a large majority of the workforce (I say this as someone who started as a coder in the software development industry a few decades ago).

The systemic oppression in our society has privileged us above others—not for merit, but simply for being born white and male. In a society, like ours, built on oppression, it takes active measures (like so-called “equity hiring”) to counter the biases and move us toward a system where we are actually hiring the best people for the job.

Blizz has a long, long, way to go to get to anything resembling a well-balanced and equitable (in both “opportunity” and “outcome”) workforce. I hope the positive sentiments in the above official statement actually translate into substantive efforts.

I truly believe that you are feeling this way. But the reality is that as a leading manager who makes the decision to hire people in IT I can tell you that the vast majority of people don't have some hidden oppression towards women. Me and many of my colleagues would love to see more women in science/IT/engineering but unfortunately there are not so many going to IT. 

Why women in general are not that interested in engineering is a different story, but if you loo0k at other fields in a company you will see more women in art, hr, accounting and many more fields.

But maybe it's a different story for your particular company. 😉

P.S. If company is interested in your sexual orientation, probably you don't want to work there. 

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2 hours ago, Trest said:

A significant imbalance in the demographics of a workforce is a clear sign that hiring has not been based on “merit”.

Us straight white dudes are not inherently any better than any other class of people at this work. And yet we make up a large majority of the workforce (I say this as someone who started as a coder in the software development industry a few decades ago).

The systemic oppression in our society has privileged us above others—not for merit, but simply for being born white and male. In a society, like ours, built on oppression, it takes active measures (like so-called “equity hiring”) to counter the biases and move us toward a system where we are actually hiring the best people for the job.

Blizz has a long, long, way to go to get to anything resembling a well-balanced and equitable (in both “opportunity” and “outcome”) workforce. I hope the positive sentiments in the above official statement actually translate into substantive efforts.

I respectfully disagree with everything you just said.

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3 hours ago, Kiraez said:

They aren’t hiring women for the point of hiring women. What they are doing is saying, when they are given, for example, two equal applicants and one is male and one is female, they will opt to hire the woman to work towards inclusion of women in an industry that has primarily favoured and been dominated by men for decades. 

Blizzard will not be turning down an applicant for the soul purpose of hiring a woman who is less qualified. If you cannot comprehend and understand this, then you are part of the problem. All of the same principles should apply to the hiring of LGBTQIA+ in the industry… 

They are not trying to hire “less men” they are trying to hire a more equal representation of all kinds of people. 

Well someone's being very rude.


You and I have no idea how many female applicants they've turned away due to the fact of them being female, so you saying that I'm part of the problem for pointing out that I believe that the most qualified person should get the job, regardless of gender, is a very arrogant thing to say.
 

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Well can see here he is still discriminating poeple.   doesnt anyone know the fair rights act which is part of our constitution created in  1964.  Have a read if you never have before. 

Anyone that used the word DIVERSITY is discriminating against our constitutional rights.  Its clear the wording in that fair rights act our constitutional law.  Yet so many companies and poeple claim diversity, lol the constitution prevents that as its discrimination.

Doing that diversity hiring based on looks or gender is discriminatory in its foundation.  Hire whom is best for the job, not based on their gender or ethnicity thats garbage diversity claim need more women  scam scam scam.

Edited by Supertrix5

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10 hours ago, Kiraez said:

They aren’t hiring women for the point of hiring women. What they are doing is saying, when they are given, for example, two equal applicants and one is male and one is female, they will opt to hire the woman to work towards inclusion of women in an industry that has primarily favoured and been dominated by men for decades. 

Blizzard will not be turning down an applicant for the soul purpose of hiring a woman who is less qualified. If you cannot comprehend and understand this, then you are part of the problem. All of the same principles should apply to the hiring of LGBTQIA+ in the industry… 

They are not trying to hire “less men” they are trying to hire a more equal representation of all kinds of people. 

 

Your understanding of how it works is just WRONG.  You fail to see what you said is incorrect.  Representaion is discriminatory, your usage of other discriptive words dont sway that truth at all.  Cant hire based on a representation, as thats discriminatory at is core foundation.  hiring based on gender against the law you fail to see this fact.  cant hire based on some false claim of need for gender as thats illegal to do.

Edited by Supertrix5
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There are a lot of different interpretations to the whole diversity and representation issue.

But I have to say point number 2 in the letter really doesn't sound right. It really comes across as they are hiring to fill a diversity chart.

Personally I would like to think the intention is to counterbalance the discriminatory behavior against certain groups that may have happened in the past. And by doing this it would correct their workforce representation to what would have occurred naturally as if no discrimination or bias had taken place. They can't fire current employees just because the workforce diversity doesn't look right, but it seems quite clear that mistakes were made and they are doing this to correct that.

If the intention behind this move is true to the wording, it does look really awful. But looking at the bigger picture I can't help but think that it is only fair.

To be honest I don't know what to think about this, I am very conflicted. I believe it is only fair that they hire based on merit, but with their current workforce I get the feeling that it wasn't the case with how they hired people in the past.

Edited by MeOnIV

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22 hours ago, Devylknyght said:

America is the Land of Opportunity. Not the Land of Outcome. 

They call them Equal Opportunity Laws for a reason, not Equal Outcome Laws. 

What you call "inherent, even unconscious bias, or various other systemic imbalances" is actually just LIFE. EVERYONE has advantages and disadvantages. That is why it is important to focus on the best person for the job, and not just look for the biggest victims. 

Not every group has had the same advantages and disadvantages.

When looking for the "best applicant" it has been documented, over and over again, that if you have completely equal applicants, minorities are passed over. Systematically.

Opportunity is not enough. It was a great idea, but it has been shown not to work out in practice. Focusing on outcome works.

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22 hours ago, albabe said:

Nice to have at least one salient voice in here… besides the infantile anti-sjw holes.

Thank you for your comment.

I grew up in the South. Last spring I took a college course, Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination. I'd already drifted from my racist roots, but finding out that my "everyone has equal opportunity so it's fine" mindset was still a form of discrimination (modern-symbolic) kind of rocked my world. I'm still trying to grapple with the new thoughts.

It's kind of scary and I can't really blame anyone for being afraid to face it. Having one's world-view shaken is not a good feeling.

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2 hours ago, solitha said:

Not every group has had the same advantages and disadvantages.

When looking for the "best applicant" it has been documented, over and over again, that if you have completely equal applicants, minorities are passed over. Systematically.

Opportunity is not enough. It was a great idea, but it has been shown not to work out in practice. Focusing on outcome works.

And that is absolutely fine. No one will ever have same advantages. Tough luck. It means you have to try harder, work better so your children will have more advantages in life. This is how life worked for the last millennia. 

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      Learn more information about Activision Blizzard and how we connect and engage the world through epic entertainment on the company's website, www.activisionblizzard.com.
      Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
      This press release may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. We may, in some cases, use terms such as “predicts,” “believes,” “potential,” “proposed,” “continue,” “estimates,” “anticipates” “expects,” “plans,” “intends” “may,” “could,” “might,” “will,” “should” or other words that convey uncertainty of future events or outcomes to identify these forward-looking statements. Such statements are subject to numerous important factors, risks and uncertainties that may cause actual events or results to differ materially from the Company’s current expectations. These and other risks are described in the Company’s periodic reports, including the annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K, filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission and available at www.sec.gov. Any forward-looking statements that the Company makes in this press release speak only as of the date of this press release. The Company assumes no obligation to update forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, after the date of this press release.
      View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20211122006725/en/
      Investors and Analysts:
      [email protected]
      or
      Press:
      [email protected]
      Source: Activision Blizzard, Inc.
    • By Starym
      The Wall Street Journal published a very detailed article dealing mostly with Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick's knowledge of the recent allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination at the company, including the real reason Jen Oneal left her leadership position at Blizzard. Kotick, Activision Blizzard employees, the board of directors, and the ABK Workers Alliance also responded below.
      The article is based on unnamed sources within Activision Blizzard and focuses on how much CEO Bobby Kotick knew about the allegations and what's he's done about them throughout the years, including stories of sexual harassment from various Activision Blizzard studios, including Treyarch, Sledgehammer Games and Blizzard itself.
      The biggest piece of Blizzard-specific news in the article is regarding the recent departure of co-lead Jen Oneal, who announced she was leaving earlier this month to "explore how I can do more to have games and diversity intersect, and hopefully make a broader industry impact that will benefit Blizzard (and other studios) as well". However, an internal company email paints an entirely different picture of her departure, as the Wall Street Journal explains:
      In August, Activision named a longtime employee, Jennifer Oneal, to be Blizzard’s co-head, making her the first woman to lead one of the company’s business units. The following month, she sent an email to a member of Activision’s legal team in which she professed a lack of faith in Activision’s leadership to turn the culture around, saying “it was clear that the company would never prioritize our people the right way.”
      Ms. Oneal said in the email she had been sexually harassed earlier in her career at Activision, and that she was paid less than her male counterpart at the helm of Blizzard, and wanted to discuss her resignation. “I have been tokenized, marginalized, and discriminated against,” wrote Ms. Oneal, who is Asian-American and gay.

      - The Wall Street Journal
      The article continues to list various incidents from different Activision Blizzard studios in which Bobby Kotick allegedly either had knowledge of, or directly intervened in sexual harassment incidents to protect accused developers, or did not report some of the cases to the board of directors, including sexual assault allegations. You can read the full article here, as it delves into many individual stories from the company's past.
      Bobby Kotick responded to the article in an internal video on his commitment to the company and its future. Here's the transcript:
      A Message from CEO Bobby Kotick (Source)
      Today, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick shared a video message with the company's employees. Here is the transcript of his remarks:
      --
      "I want to talk with you today about our future and reiterate my conviction to create the most welcoming and inclusive workplace.
      Over the last few months, so many of you have generously and candidly shared your experiences and your insights about the type of company you want us to be.
      We’ve taken meaningful actions to improve our company and our culture. But there is more to do.  To become the model workplace we all aspire to be, more change is required. But I am so confident we will get there.
      There will, of course, be continued media attention about us and our industry over the next few months. In fact, there’s an article today that paints an inaccurate and misleading view of our company, of me personally, and my leadership. 
      I want to say two important things about this:
      First, we are incredibly fortunate to have the most talented people in our industry all so committed to constant improvement. And I share this commitment.
      The second thing I want to say is that anyone who doubts my conviction to be the most welcoming, inclusive workplace doesn’t really appreciate how important this is to me.
      Creativity and inspiration thrives best in a safe, welcoming, respectful environment.  There is no substitute for that. And staying true to our values, without exceptions, is the best way to retain our talent and to attract the new talent we need to achieve our great potential.
      As I have made clear, we are moving forward with a new zero tolerance policy for inappropriate behavior -- and zero means zero. Any reprehensible conduct is simply unacceptable.
      We have a chance to further enhance our culture and be the example other companies will follow. And we are so incredibly fortunate. Connecting and engaging the world through joy and fun is a powerful mission. Accomplishing this in a welcoming, inclusive workplace ensures we will achieve our mission with excellence.
      Over the last few years our industry has had an uncomfortable spotlight that’s been illuminating opportunities for us to change. And we must all, including me, embrace this need for change, so we can bring our very best selves to the very best place to work.
      Thank you for your commitment to a culture of respect, your appreciation for the unique talents we each possess, and for maintaining the very best environment for all of us to work.
      For that, I am truly grateful."
      The ABK Workers Alliance commented specifically on Kotick's response to the article and announced an employee walkout:
      Jason Schreier of Bloomberg reports that the walkout is already fairly large:
      The Activision Blizzard board of directors has stated that they are standing by Kotick:
      ATVI Board of Directors (Source)
      SANTA MONICA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 16, 2021-- The Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI) Board of Directors released the following statement responding to recent media stories.
      “The Activision Blizzard Board remains committed to the goal of making Activision Blizzard the most welcoming and inclusive company in the industry. Under Bobby Kotick's leadership the Company is already implementing industry leading changes including a zero tolerance harassment policy, a dedication to achieving significant increases to the percentages of women and non-binary people in our workforce and significant internal and external investments to accelerate opportunities for diverse talent. The Board remains confident that Bobby Kotick appropriately addressed workplace issues brought to his attention.
      The goals we have set for ourselves are both critical and ambitious. The Board remains confident in Bobby Kotick's leadership, commitment and ability to achieve these goals.”
    • By Staff
      Activision Blizzard workers celebrate a huge victory today. The company has increased the minimum hourly rate for all temporary employees to $17 per hour. They will also receive 13 paid holidays each year, and more.
      This is "a result of collective action and there is still more work to do", according to Senior Test Analyst Jessica Gonzalez.
      Placeholder for tweet 1457888913394044937
    • By Staff
      Blizzard co-lead Jen Oneal yesterday announced her departure from Blizzard Entertainment and here's her message to the community.
      (Source)
      To the Blizzard community,

      Over the last few months, many of us have been taking the time to ask ourselves how we can effect the most positive change in our workplace, in our games, and in our communities. 

      On a macro level, Mike Ybarra and I, along with the rest of Blizzard, have been navigating the important changes we must undertake in order to be known as the creative powerhouse that brought hundreds of millions of players into Azeroth, Sanctuary, and more, all while ensuring our workplace and game communities are truly inclusive, safe, and inviting to all. 

      On a micro level, as I’ve listened to the stories from people all over Blizzard and been inspired by their courage and conviction, I’ve been thinking about the potential of what I can do as an individual to create the most meaningful change. For the last 20 years of my career, I have loved developing games--they are my lifeblood. I also have been fortunate to find my passion and voice in the diversity, equity, and inclusion space along the way.

      Those of you who have played our games will know that sometimes our adventures can keep you on the quest you set out on, but sometimes, a new quest beckons us. 

      I want you to hear from me personally that I have made the decision to step away from co-leading Blizzard Entertainment and will transition to a new position before departing ABK at the end of the year. Effective immediately, Mike Ybarra will lead Blizzard. I am doing this not because I am without hope for Blizzard, quite the opposite--I’m inspired by the passion of everyone here, working towards meaningful, lasting change with their whole hearts. This energy has inspired me to step out and explore how I can do more to have games and diversity intersect, and hopefully make a broader industry impact that will benefit Blizzard (and other studios) as well. While I am not totally sure what form that will take, I am excited to embark on a new journey to find out. 

      ABK’s leadership is graciously offering their support for my decision and has worked with me on a plan to invest in the future of other women in the gaming industry, by agreeing to make a US $1 million grant to Women in Games International--a fantastic non-profit organization, where I am a board member, that cultivates and advances equality and diversity in the global games industry. This money will be used to fund skill-building and mentorship programs. 

      With my remaining time here, I will be transferring my responsibilities to Mike, and transitioning into a new role working closely with Activision Blizzard and WIGI to determine the first steps around how the grant will be utilized, and its structure. The partnership is full of potential and is another step in a long-term commitment to create better support, resources, and guidance to women in the gaming industry.

      Mike has been unbelievably supportive throughout my decision-making process around this move, and I have every confidence in him leading Blizzard. Mike and I have been working together to develop many of the actions we’ll be taking to continue making Blizzard a safer, stronger, and more inclusive workplace, and I know he plans on sharing some of those actions with you soon. 

      I wanted to tell the Blizzard community this personally because I want you to know I believe so strongly in Mike and the rest of Blizzard’s leadership both in terms of Blizzard’s culture and Blizzard’s games. Blizzard’s best days are ahead. I truly believe that. I also am hoping this letter helps you to think about what you can do to make everyone around you--no matter their gender, race, or identity--feel welcome, comfortable, and free to be themselves. 

      Thank you for the support you have shown our teams over the last few months. I know that your positive messages have helped our people tremendously during this time. 

      And to everyone at Blizzard, thank you--for your honesty, your belief in a better future, and your incredible work ethic, creativity, and passion. You inspired me to find my own path in championing the cause for equality and my hope is that you inspire our players to do the same. 
      Thank you again,
      Jen Oneal
    • By Starym
      Activision Blizzard held their third quarter earnings call for 2021 and we had some pretty big revelations, including the delays of Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2, Blizzard's financial situation and more, so let's take a look at the highlights.
      Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2 delayed: it seems very likely they will not be launching in 2022, as Activision Blizzard CFO Armin Zerza mentioned they will not be including the two games in their financial outlook for 2022. With the recent departures of the leads on both the games, this is perhaps expected, as Blizzard leader Mike Ybarra commented that the extra time will allow both development teams to expand and be able to follow up the games' launches with "substantial content releases".
      Blizzard had 26 million monthly active users, the exact same amount as in the second quarter. Blizzard's Q3 2021 ($493 million) revenue grew 20% compared to last year, mostly due to Diablo 2: Resurrected. D2R had the all-time highest first week of sales for a remaster for all of Activision Blizzard. Diablo: Immortal release is scheduled for Q1 2022. WoW is expected to deliver its highest engagement and net bookings for a non-expansion release year in a decade. The two most important financial industry stats: Revenue: $1.88 billion versus $1.88 billion expected. Earnings per share: $0.72 versus $0.70 expected. The Q3 results met analyst expectations and was a solid performance, the reported outlook for Q4 did not meet expectations.

      You can check out the full visual presentation here, or check out the press release with a lot more numbers below:
      Q3 Earnings (Source)
      SANTA MONICA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 2, 2021-- Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) today announced third-quarter 2021 results.
      “I’m pleased to report strong third quarter results ahead of our prior outlook,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. “We are excited about this week’s Call of Duty launch and expect continued success in the fourth quarter. I want to thank our employees for their continued commitment to each other, the company, and our players. We look forward to sharing progress updates on our workplace initiatives, alongside our business performance.”
      Financial Metrics
       
        Q3
      (in millions, except EPS)
        2021
        Prior Outlook*
        2020
      GAAP Net Revenues
        $2,070
        $1,970
        $1,954
      Impact of GAAP deferralsA
        ($190)
        ($120)
        ($187)
       
         
         
         
      GAAP EPS
        $0.82
        $0.64
        $0.78
      Non-GAAP EPS
        $0.89
        $0.75
        $0.88
      Impact of GAAP deferralsA
        ($0.17)
        ($0.10)
        ($0.17)
       
         
         
          * Prior outlook was provided by the company on August 3, 2021 in its earnings release.
      Please refer to the tables at the back of this earnings release for a reconciliation of the company’s GAAP and non-GAAP results.
      For the quarter ended September 30, 2021, Activision Blizzard’s net revenues presented in accordance with GAAP were $2.07 billion, as compared with $1.95 billion for the third quarter of 2020. GAAP net revenues from digital channels were $1.85 billion. GAAP operating margin was 40%. GAAP earnings per diluted share was $0.82, as compared with $0.78 for the third quarter of 2020. On a non-GAAP basis, Activision Blizzard’s operating margin was 43% and earnings per diluted share was $0.89, as compared with $0.88 for the third quarter of 2020.
      For the quarter, operating cash flow was $521 million, as compared with $196 million for the third quarter of 2020. For the trailing twelve-month period, operating cash flow was $2.89 billion.
      Please refer to the tables at the back of this press release for a reconciliation of the company’s GAAP and non-GAAP results.
      Operating Metrics
      For the quarter ended September 30, 2021, Activision Blizzard’s net bookingsB were $1.88 billion, as compared with $1.77 billion for the third quarter of 2020. In-game net bookingsC were $1.20 billion consistent with the third quarter of 2020.
      For the quarter ended September 30, 2021, overall Activision Blizzard Monthly Active Users (MAUs)D were 390 million.
      Commitment to a Safe, Inclusive Working Environment
      We are committed to becoming the most welcoming, inclusive company in our industry. We are taking further steps to advance our commitment with greater impact, transparency, and urgency.
      We are adding staff and resources to our ethics and compliance and employee relations teams. We are continuing to thoroughly investigate each and every claim and complaint that we receive. As a result of this process, more than 20 individuals have exited the company in recent months. We are implementing a zero-tolerance harassment policy across Activision Blizzard that will be applied consistently. Our goal is to have the strictest harassment and non-retaliation policies of any employer. Based on feedback from employees, we are waiving required arbitration of future individual sexual harassment and discrimination claims. We have introduced the goal of increasing the percentage of women and non-binary people in our workforce by 50% within the next five years, to more than one-third across the entire company. We plan to invest an additional $250 million over the next 10 years in initiatives that foster expanded opportunities in gaming and technology for under-represented communities. To help us continue to recruit, retain and promote employees from all backgrounds and identities, we are implementing the requirement for a diverse slate of candidates for all full-time open positions. A review of 2020 U.S. pay equity at our company conducted by an independent firm showed that women on average earned slightly more than men for comparable work in 2020. We are committed to compensation remaining equitable for men and women performing comparable work in 2021, and beyond. In September we announced a comprehensive agreement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is subject to court approval, to strengthen policies and programs intended to further improve the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and related conduct. As part of the agreement, we will establish an $18 million fund to compensate those who have experienced such behavior at our company and elect to participate.
      The company continues to monitor the progress of its business units, franchise teams, and functional leaders with respect to workplace initiatives. We will continue to provide regular updates to all stakeholders.
      Selected Business Highlights
      Activision Blizzard’s third quarter results were above our outlook. Third quarter monthly active usersD were consistent with the year-ago level, even as regions continued to re-open, while net bookingsB and operating income grew year-over-year. This performance again illustrates the structural expansion that our talented and passionate teams have driven in our largest franchises as they created new ways for players to interact with our intellectual properties, including free-to-play experiences. We continue to increase investment in creative talent so that we can grow and delight the communities for each of our key franchises.
      Activision
      The Call of Duty® ecosystem sustained reach, engagement, and player investment well above levels seen prior to the introduction of free-to-play experiences across console, PC, and mobile. Activision segment revenue grew year-over-year to a new record on a year-to-date basis. Segment revenue was lower year-over-year in the third quarter due to the launch of Tony Hawk’sTM Pro SkaterTM 1 + 2 in the year ago quarter and declines in Call of Duty against a quarter that benefited from shelter-at-home mandates and the early ramp of WarzoneTM. Activision had 119 million MAUsD in the third quarter. MAUsD in the Call of Duty franchise were consistent year-over-year on console and PC and grew on mobile. On console and PC, Call of Duty MAUsD and time spent exhibited very similar retention from Q2 to Q3 as our experiences in prior years. In-game player investment on console and PC remained well above the level seen prior to the Warzone launch, at approximately three times the level of Q3 2019. Strong conversion from free-to-play drove premium sales higher than in any third quarter prior to the launch of Warzone. For Call of Duty Mobile, net bookings grew over 40% year-over-year in the third quarter, driven by double digit growth in the West and a continued contribution from the game in China. Call of Duty: Vanguard will release on November 5, followed by the roll out of Call of Duty: Warzone Pacific, the biggest update to the Warzone experience since launch, on December 2. Blizzard
      Blizzard segment revenue grew 20% year-over-year in the third quarter, driven by the successful launch of Diablo® II: ResurrectedTM. Blizzard had 26 million MAUsD in the third quarter. For Diablo, our plan to enter an era of unprecedented content scale for the franchise has experienced a strong start with the September release of Diablo II: Resurrected, the return of one of the most acclaimed titles in PC gaming history. First week sales of the title were the highest recorded for a remaster from the company. On mobile, Diablo® ImmortalTM is in public testing, and remains on track for release in the first half of next year. World of Warcraft® reach and engagement continues to benefit from the combination of the Modern game and Classic under a single subscription. World of Warcraft is on track to deliver its strongest engagement and net bookings outside of a Modern expansion year in a decade. Hearthstone® net bookings were stable year-over-year in the third quarter. In October, the team launched MercenariesTM, an innovative role-playing mode that gives existing, returning and new Hearthstone players an entirely new way to play the game. King
      King segment revenue grew 22% year-over-year to a new quarterly record, with very strong year-over-year trends for both in-app purchases and advertising. King had 245 million MAUsD in the third quarter. Hours played across the King portfolio grew year-over-year in the third quarter, with players responding positively to a more frequent cadence of compelling in-game content and events for key titles. Payer numbers grew by a double-digit percentage versus the year ago quarter. In-game net bookings for Candy CrushTM grew over 20% year-over-year, with Candy Crush once again the top-grossing game franchise in the U.S. app stores1. At the end of the third quarter King launched the Candy Crush All Stars U.S. tournament which has driven meaningful increases in installs, game rounds played and in-app purchases in recent weeks. King has been accelerating and refining content delivery in Farm HeroesTM, its second largest franchise. This work continued to bear fruit in the third quarter, and in-game net bookings have grown around 20% year-over-year on a year-to-date basis. King’s advertising business grew robustly, with quarterly revenue growing sequentially and year-over-year to a new high. Both volume and pricing grew strongly year-over-year, benefiting from the team’s growing relationships with demand partners and the ongoing ramp of new categories of advertisers. Company Outlook
      (in millions, except EPS)
        GAAP
      Outlook
       
      Non-GAAP
      Outlook
       
      Impact of GAAP
      deferralsA
      CY 2021
         
       
       
       
       
      Net Revenues
        $8,660
       
      $8,660
       
      ($10)
      EPS
        $3.27
       
      $3.70
       
      $0.06
      Fully Diluted Shares
        784
       
      784
       
       
       
         
       
       
       
       
      Q4 2021
         
       
       
       
       
      Net Revenues
        $2,020
       
      $2,020
       
      $763
      EPS
        $0.54
       
      $0.62
       
      $0.67
      Fully Diluted Shares
        785
       
      785
       
       
      Net bookingsB are expected to be $8.65 billion for 2021 and $2.78 billion for the fourth quarter of 2021.
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