Inside the Bobby Kotick Saga

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick
Photo by J. Emilio Flores via Getty Images)
Dylan Byers
November 17, 2021

The Bobby Kotick story isn’t well known outside of business and gaming circles, but in terms of sheer narrative drama it’s probably deserving of the Hollywood treatment. Thirty years ago, after launching a tech company in his dorm room, securing an investment from Steve Wynn (in a casino basement), and then dropping out of college on the advice of Steve Jobs, Kotick raised $400,000 to buy an insolvent gaming company. Today, that company, Activision Blizzard, is worth $52 billion, has nearly 10,000 employees, and produces some of the most popular video games on the planet. Herb Allen III, the president of Allen & Company, has called it “one of the great success stories of all time.”

How does the story end? We’re about to find out. On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal published a damning report alleging that Kotick was long aware of sexual misconduct allegations at his company—despite his claims to the contrary—and failed to inform his board. The report also says that Kotick intervened to save an employee from being fired for alleged sexual harassment despite the recommendations of his human resources department and other supervisors. And while Kotick himself is not accused of sexual misconduct, there are two allegations of him making threatening remarks toward women: one to an assistant, another to a flight attendant on his private jet.

These revelations, which come amid an S.E.C. investigation into the company’s handling of sexual misconduct, as well as a lawsuit from the state of California concerning Activision’s “frat boy” culture, have left the Sun Valley set speculating over their friend’s future. At Activision headquarters in Santa Monica, around 100 current and former employees staged a walkout demanding Kotick’s resignation. Vox Media’s gaming news site Polygon also called on Kotick to resign, while The Information concurred that it was time for “fresh blood at the top.”