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Blizzard lead Mike Ybarra shared a message to the community, talking about the Microsoft deal, actions taken at Blizzard to regain trust, priorities in 2022, and more. He also mentioned "exciting announcements" coming next week. Patch 9.2 release date, anyone?
I’m humbled to be part of Blizzard Entertainment–the rich history, the incredible talent, the best player communities, and of course, the amazing games we’re so fortunate to create. I’ve been leading Blizzard for a couple of months now, and in addition to the exciting news this week, I want to share some initial thoughts as we strive to put our team and players at the forefront of everything we do.
2021 was challenging for all of us. As individuals, we care about treating everyone around us with respect and dignity. As professionals, we care deeply about our crafts, and we want to work in the most supportive and safe environment possible.
Our top priority—now and into the future—is the work we are doing to rebuild your trust in Blizzard.
Watching Blizzard work as creatively and diligently as we have throughout this challenging time (on top of an ongoing pandemic) has been inspiring. Navigating these challenges, evolving our development processes, and being introspective and looking at how we can improve our culture shows incredible strength and commitment to one another, our work, and to the player communities.
I also was encouraged in reading forums, social posts, and emails from people within and outside of Blizzard, standing up for what is right and lending us your guidance. I want you all to know we are listening, and we are committed to change. As a first step toward improving communication with the community, I wanted to highlight some of the initial actions we are taking to improve our culture:
We’re measuring our executive and management teams directly against culture improvement. This means their (and my own) success and compensation will directly depend on our overall success in creating a safe, inclusive, and creative work environment at Blizzard. We’re dedicating more full-time roles and resources to improving our culture. All too often, this important effort falls to employee resource groups, filled with people who already have full-time jobs. A few of the leadership positions we’ve established for this new team include: a Culture leader who will help us maintain the best aspects of what we have today, and change and evolve where needed to ensure everyone brings their best self to Blizzard a new organizational leader for Human Resources who will build trust, empower our teams, and help foster a safe, positive work environment for everyone a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) leader solely focused on our progress across multiple efforts in this area We are committed to staffing these teams as a priority. We tripled the size of our compliance and investigation teams and have articulated clear accountability for unacceptable behavior. This applies to all employees at Blizzard, including leadership and management. We have shared representation data internally with our teams and have set goals around improvement across thesemetrics. We’ve put in place an upward feedback program so that employees have confidence in evaluating management, and we will use this to measure the quality and effectiveness of our managers. These actions are just the beginning of the work that lies ahead for Blizzard. I’m motivated and excited to work directly on building the best environment for our teams, to allow them to bring their visions to life.
We also know we need to deliver content to our players on a more regular basis and innovate both in and beyond our existing games. We have some exciting things to announce, and I’ll be sharing more next week.
I want to thank our communities and our incredible teams for your dedication and guidance, which will always be our north star.
Here’s to an incredible 2022 and beyond.
- Mike "Qwik" Ybarra
We have two official announcements surrounding the giant, almost $70 billion, Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard from both sides, starting with Microsoft CEO Phil Spencer issuing a statement on Xbox Wire, focuisng on Game Pass additions and cloud gaming:
As a team, we are on a mission to extend the joy and community of gaming to everyone on the planet. We all know that gaming is the most vibrant and dynamic form of entertainment worldwide and we’ve experienced the power of social connection and friendship that gaming makes possible.
As we pursue that mission, it is incredibly exciting to announce that Microsoft has agreed to acquire Activision Blizzard.
Over many decades, the studios and teams that make up Activision Blizzard have earned vast wellsprings of joy and respect from billions of people all over the world. We are incredibly excited to have the chance to work with the amazing, talented, dedicated people across Activision Publishing, Blizzard Entertainment, Beenox, Demonware, Digital Legends, High Moon Studios, Infinity Ward, King, Major League Gaming, Radical Entertainment, Raven Software, Sledgehammer Games, Toys for Bob, Treyarch and every team across Activision Blizzard.
Until this transaction closes, Activision Blizzard and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently. Once the deal is complete, the Activision Blizzard business will report to me as CEO, Microsoft Gaming.
Upon close, we will offer as many Activision Blizzard games as we can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, both new titles and games from Activision Blizzard’s incredible catalog. We also announced today that Game Pass now has more than 25 million subscribers. As always, we look forward to continuing to add more value and more great games to Game Pass.
The fantastic franchises across Activision Blizzard will also accelerate our plans for Cloud Gaming, allowing more people in more places around the world to participate in the Xbox community using phones, tablets, laptops and other devices you already own. Activision Blizzard games are enjoyed on a variety of platforms and we plan to continue to support those communities moving forward.
As a company, Microsoft is committed to our journey for inclusion in every aspect of gaming, among both employees and players. We deeply value individual studio cultures. We also believe that creative success and autonomy go hand-in-hand with treating every person with dignity and respect. We hold all teams, and all leaders, to this commitment. We’re looking forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to the great teams across Activision Blizzard.
Around the world, there is no more exciting venue for fun and connection than video games. And there has never been a better time to play than right now. As we extend the joy and community of gaming to everyone, we look forward to welcoming all of our friends at Activision Blizzard to Microsoft Gaming.
And Activision Blizzard had a similar press release, focusing a little more on the financials:
Activision Blizzard (Source)
REDMOND, Wash. and SANTA MONICA, Calif., Jan. 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- With three billion people actively playing games today, and fueled by a new generation steeped in the joys of interactive entertainment, gaming is now the largest and fastest-growing form of entertainment. Today, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI), a leader in game development and interactive entertainment content publisher. This acquisition will accelerate the growth in Microsoft's gaming business across mobile, PC, console and cloud and will provide building blocks for the metaverse.
Microsoft will acquire Activision Blizzard for $95.00 per share, in an all-cash transaction valued at $68.7 billion, inclusive of Activision Blizzard's net cash. When the transaction closes, Microsoft will become the world's third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony. The planned acquisition includes iconic franchises from the Activision, Blizzard and King studios like "Warcraft," "Diablo," "Overwatch," "Call of Duty" and "Candy Crush," in addition to global eSports activities through Major League Gaming. The company has studios around the word with nearly 10,000 employees.
Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and he and his team will maintain their focus on driving efforts to further strengthen the company's culture and accelerate business growth. Once the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming.
"Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms," said Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO, Microsoft. "We're investing deeply in world-class content, community and the cloud to usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive and accessible to all."
"Players everywhere love Activision Blizzard games, and we believe the creative teams have their best work in front of them," said Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming. "Together we will build a future where people can play the games they want, virtually anywhere they want."
"For more than 30 years our incredibly talented teams have created some of the most successful games," said Bobby Kotick, CEO, Activision Blizzard. "The combination of Activision Blizzard's world-class talent and extraordinary franchises with Microsoft's technology, distribution, access to talent, ambitious vision and shared commitment to gaming and inclusion will help ensure our continued success in an increasingly competitive industry."
Mobile is the largest segment in gaming, with nearly 95% of all players globally enjoying games on mobile. Through great teams and great technology, Microsoft and Activision Blizzard will empower players to enjoy the most-immersive franchises, like "Halo" and "Warcraft," virtually anywhere they want. And with games like "Candy Crush," Activision Blizzard´s mobile business represents a significant presence and opportunity for Microsoft in this fast-growing segment.
The acquisition also bolsters Microsoft's Game Pass portfolio with plans to launch Activision Blizzard games into Game Pass, which has reached a new milestone of over 25 million subscribers. With Activision Blizzard's nearly 400 million monthly active players in 190 countries and three billion-dollar franchises, this acquisition will make Game Pass one of the most compelling and diverse lineups of gaming content in the industry. Upon close, Microsoft will have 30 internal game development studios, along with additional publishing and esports production capabilities.
The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and completion of regulatory review and Activision Blizzard's shareholder approval. The deal is expected to close in fiscal year 2023 and will be accretive to non-GAAP earnings per share upon close. The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard.
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick sent an email to staff regarding Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
We learn that the transaction will take a long time to complete and won't happen before June 30, 2023. Until then, Activision Blizzard will continue to operate autonomously.
Transactions like these take a long time to complete. Until we receive all the necessary regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions are satisfied, which we expect to be sometime in Microsoft's fiscal 2023 year ending June 30, 2023, we will continue to operate completely autonomously. I will continue as our CEO with the same passion and enthusiasm I had when I began this amazing journey in 1991.
Of course, this announcement will give rise to so many questions. We will host numerous forums and events to make certain we address your concerns.
I am incredibly proud of this company, you, ad the work we have done together. Now it's on to our next chapter and the endless possibilities this transaction represents for us. I couldn't be more appreciative of your efforts, focus, and the dedication to connecting the world through joy and fun.
Source: Jason Schreier's Twitter
The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft is nearing a deal to buy Activision Blizzard for nearly $70 billion, which is the largest deal of all time in the sector.
Microsoft is set to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion including net cash. The company will pay $95 a share for Activision Blizzard. A Microsoft PR person told Bloomberg journalist Jason Schreier that Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard. Once the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming.
Placeholder for tweet 1483432118441099266 When the transaction closes, Microsoft will become the world's third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony. The planned acquisition includes iconic franchises from Activision, Blizzard and King studios like "Warcraft," "Diablo," "Overwatch," "Call of Duty" and "Candy Crush," in addition to global esports activities through Major League Gaming.
[Read Full Article]
Source: The Wall Street Journal
In a press release, Activision Blizzard announced they've formed a new Workplace Responsibility Committee to ensure the implementation of initiatives to eliminate harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
The Committee is being chaired by independent directors Dawn Ostroff, Chief Content Officer and Advertising Business Officer of Spotify and Reveta Bowers, independent governance and organizational consultant for non-profit organizations.
The Committee will require management to develop key performance indicators and/or other means to measure progress and ensure accountability.
The Chief Executive Officer, the Chief People Officer, and Chief Compliance Officer will provide frequent progress reports to the Committee, which will regularly pass the information to the full Board.
You can read the full press release below.
SANTA MONICA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 22, 2021-- The Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI) Board of Directors today announced that it has formed a “Workplace Responsibility Committee” (the “Committee”), initially comprised of two independent directors, to oversee the Company’s progress in successfully implementing its new policies, procedures, and commitments to improve workplace culture and eliminate all forms of harassment and discrimination at the Company. The Committee is being chaired by Dawn Ostroff, an independent director since 2020. Reveta Bowers, an independent director since 2018, will serve on the Committee. In addition, the Company is working to add a new, diverse director to the Board.
The Committee will require management to develop key performance indicators and/or other means to measure progress and ensure accountability. The Chief Executive Officer, Bobby Kotick, along with the Chief People Officer and Chief Compliance Officer will provide frequent progress reports to the Committee, which will regularly brief the full Board. The Committee is empowered to retain outside consultants or advisers, including independent legal counsel, to assist in its work.
The Activision Blizzard Board is committed to ensuring a healthy workplace in which all employees feel valued, safe, and respected. Our Audit Committee has been kept apprised of developments, including the EEOC and DFEH investigations. The Board supports the numerous steps taken by management since 2018 to improve workplace culture, including centralizing the human resources function in 2019 to ensure greater consistency and accountability, strengthening and increasing training, and, most recently, improving methods for reporting and responding to complaints of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. Beginning in October, the Board has been meeting bi-weekly for in-depth assessments on related plans and progress and also now receives detailed written weekly reports. The Board remains committed to helping drive significant, additional improvements.
As announced on September 27, 2021, in an agreement with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Company, upon court approval of the agreement, will hire an EEO Coordinator; that Coordinator will have a direct reporting line to the Board. The Committee will engage regularly with the EEO Coordinator and an independent EEO Consultant, who will be engaged consistent with the agreement. The duties of these two separate EEO functions will provide transparency both to the EEOC and the Workplace Responsibility Committee.
While the Company, with the Board’s support, has been making important progress to improve workplace culture, it is clear that current circumstances demand increased Board engagement. Formation of the Committee and additional future changes will help facilitate additional direct oversight and transparency and ensure that the Company’s commitments to Activision Blizzard’s workforce are carried out with urgency and impact. This has been a challenging time across the Company, but the Board is confident in the actions underway to set the Company up for future success.
About Activision Blizzard
Our mission, to connect and engage the world through epic entertainment has never been more important. Through communities rooted in our video game franchises we enable hundreds of millions of people to experience joy, thrill, and achievement. We enable social connections through the lens of fun, and we foster purpose and a sense of accomplishment through healthy competition. Like sport, but with greater accessibility, our players can find purpose and meaning through competitive gaming. Video games, unlike any other social or entertainment media, have the ability to break down the barriers that can inhibit tolerance and understanding. Celebrating differences is at the core of our culture and ensures we can create games for players of diverse backgrounds in the 190 countries our games are played.
As a member of the Fortune 500 and as a component company of the S&P 500, we have an extraordinary track record of delivering superior shareholder returns for over 30 years.
Our enduring franchises are some of the world’s most popular, including Call of Duty®, Crash Bandicoot™, World of Warcraft®, Overwatch®, Hearthstone®, Diablo®, StarCraft®, Candy Crush™, Bubble Witch™, Pet Rescue™ and Farm Heroes™. Our sustained success has enabled the company to support corporate social responsibility initiatives that are directly tied to our franchises. As an example, our Call of Duty Endowment has helped find employment for over 90,000 veterans.
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:
Source: Activision Blizzard, Inc.