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Activision Blizzard names Rob Kostich as new President of Activision Publishing

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Activision Blizzard today announced the appointment of Rob Kostich, the current General Manager and Executive Vice President of Call of Duty at Activision, as the new President of Activision Publishing. Kostich will now lead the Activision Publishing division within Activision Blizzard.

This is the first new, confirmed leader of the operating division following the departure of Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg back in March 2018. Since then, no confirmed new president or CEO was appointed — till today. The company also announced two more new appointments within other divisions of the company.

Activision Blizzard, Inc. today announced key leadership appointments, naming long-time veteran executives to lead three of the Company’s operating units. Call of Duty® Executive Vice President and General Manager Rob Kostich has been named President of Activision; Humam Sakhnini has been named President of King Digital Entertainment, having most recently served as both Chief Financial Officer and Chief Strategy Officer of the operating unit. The Company also named Dennis Durkin President of Activision Blizzard’s Emerging Businesses, in addition to his role as Chief Financial Officer of the Company. As previously announced, veteran Blizzard executive and World of Warcraft® Executive Producer J. Allen Brack continues to serve as the President of Blizzard Entertainment.

“Rob, Humam, Dennis and J. exemplify our deep bench of operational and commercial leadership. These capable and seasoned executives have shown unwavering commitment to our company, our employees, and our beloved community of fans around the world,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. “With these proven, principled leaders at the helm, we will continue to invest in the strategic growth drivers of our business; our talented people, and creating the world’s best videogames, live services, mobile experiences, and new and growing franchise engagement models.”

In the press release announcing the new leads of the company’s operating units, Activision also revealed that the Call of Duty franchise has generated more revenue than the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, and has generated double the revenue than Star Wars has.

Kostich Named President, Activision: Rob Kostich has led the Company’s most iconic franchise, Call of Duty®, for the past 10 years. He is an Activision veteran of nearly 15 years and, as President, Kostich will oversee strategy and operations, including game development, for the operating unit. Under his leadership as GM and Executive Vice President of the franchise, Call of Duty® has become one of the most successful entertainment properties in history. As a franchise, Call of Duty has now generated more revenue than the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the box office, and double that of the cumulative box office of Star Wars.

During his tenure, Call of Duty has been the No. 1 top-selling console video game franchise in the U.S. for the last decade. Mr. Kostich also serves as President of the Call of Duty Endowment and has overseen the growth of Call of Duty esports including the establishment of the Call of Duty World League, a leading esports organization. Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Kostich held a variety of leadership and marketing positions at Verisign, Nestlé USA and The Clorox Company.

Activision Blizzard also announced two more appoints, a new President of King Digital Entertainment, alongside a new President of their Emerging Business Units.

Dennis Durkin, who was announced last week to be the new Chief Financial Officer, will also take on the role of President of Emerging Business Units at Activision Blizzard. With this role, Durkin will oversee Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues, Activision Blizzard Studios, and Activision Blizzard Consumer Products Division.

Durkin Named President, Emerging Businesses: Dennis Durkin, who was recently re-appointed Chief Financial Officer of Activision Blizzard, will also serve as President of the Company’s Emerging Businesses, working closely with each division’s leadership team. In this expanded role, Mr. Durkin will oversee operational management of Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues, Activision Blizzard Studios and Activision Blizzard Consumer Products Group. Mr. Durkin previously held the role of CFO from March 2012 to May 2017, and most recently, served as Chief Corporate Officer for the Company.

During Mr. Durkin’s initial tenure as Chief Financial Officer of Activision Blizzard, the Company delivered strong financial performance, and a greater than 400 percent increase in the stock price during that time. Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Durkin held a number of positions of increasing responsibility at Microsoft Corporation during an over twelve-year period, including Corporate Vice President and Chief Operating and Financial Officer of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business (IEB), which included the Xbox console business.

Activision Blizzard has been going under many executive changes the last year, with a new CFO appointed last week, alongside the departure of Blizzard’s CFO.

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Blizzard Chief Legal Officer resigns as Activision Blizzard lawsuit controversy continues

Turmoil at Activision Blizzard continues as new investigations & details surface on the harassment lawsuit.

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The turmoil over the lawsuit for Activision Blizzard continues as a high profile executive of the company has announced their departure.

Blizzard Entertainment’s Chief Legal Officer, Claire Hart, has shared on her LinkedIn that she’s left the company on Friday, September 17.

Hart said in her message on LinkedIn that “the past three years have been full of unexpected twists and turns, but I feel honored to have worked with and met so many great people at Blizzard and across the Activision Blizzard businesses.”

She did not comment on whether her departure was related to what was happening at the company currently. Activision Blizzard also declined to comment beyond confirming her departure.

The news of her departure comes as this week the company confirmed new investigations by the SEC over the company’s handling of the lawsuit scandal.

This week, the situation heated up as Activision Blizzard is now under investigation by the SEC for potentially misleading investors over the brevity of the lawsuit and harassment that occurred at the company.

Activision Blizzard confirmed that they are cooperating with the SEC as part of their investigation into the company.

The lawsuit from California State, which surfaced in July, primarily focused on Blizzard Entertainment’s harassment and scandal issues, including sexual harassment, inequality amongst staff pay, and more issues.

Blizzard’s President of J. Allen Brack was the first executive to leave the company, resigning at the end of July. He was replaced by Mike Ybarra and Jen Oneal as the new co-leaders of Blizzard Entertainment.

So far, Activision Blizzard has refused to met employee’s demands to chart a better future for the company. An employee group, A Better ABK, has been formed to provide their feedback to the executive team.

In other news in regards to Blizzard, the Executive Producer of Overwatch 2 is departing Blizzard this week.

Chacko Sonny, who was highly respected at Blizzard and seen as the person to chart Overwatch’s future following Jeff Kaplan’s departure, told staff in an email that he’s leaving, per Bloomberg. Sonny was perviously one the masterminds behind Call of Duty ELITE service back in 2011.

We’ll continue to update as the situation unfolds.

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Activision Blizzard provides update on workplace initiatives as US government opens investigation

Activision Blizzard is now being investigated by the SEC over sexual misconduct and discrimination allegations, as fallout from initial lawsuit continues.

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The fallout on Activision Blizzard over the initial revelations of workplace harassment at the company continues as the company is now facing new legal challenges from U.S government agencies.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has issued a report stating that the SEC, the Securities and Exchange Committee, opened an investigation into Activision Blizzard recently over the workplace harassment and pay inequality issues.

The SEC has also subpoenaed Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick to appear in court, along with several other Activision Blizzard senior executives. Specific names beyond Kotick were not shared.

The SEC is investigating whether Activision Blizzard’s failure to provide proper information in regards to the harassment and inequality situation prior to it becoming public via the California state lawsuit on July 21, 2021 caused investors to lose money over a drop in the company’s stock prices.

The WSJ states that, per documents and files they’ve reviewed, the SEC is asking for information dating back to 2019.

The agency is specifically inquiring about the communications of senior executives over the harassment and diversity situation and what decisions were made at that time.

Activision Blizzard’s Chief Communications Officer, Helaine Klasky, confirmed to WSJ that the SEC is investigating the company and confirmed they are cooperating with the SEC.

In addition to the SEC, the WSJ reports that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been investigating Activision Blizzard separately since May 2020 over workplace misconduct and discrimination.

Per reports, Activision Blizzard and the agency are in talks over a settlement agreement which would see the company pay millions of dollars in fines.

Activision Blizzard has been under fire since the California DEFH lawsuit came to light on July 21, 2021.

Employees of the company formed a group, known as A Better ABK, to list their demands and how they want to proceed forward with the company, following a company wide walkout in July. So far, the company’s executives have not met their demands.

Activision Blizzard provides update

Since these new investigations have come to light, Activision Blizzard has issued a statement revealing some progress that the company claims to have made over the last two months.

Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard, said, “We are deeply committed to making Activision Blizzard one of the best, most inclusive places to work anywhere. There is absolutely no place anywhere in our Company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind. While we continue to work in good faith with regulators to address and resolve past workplace issues, we also continue to move ahead with our own initiatives to ensure that we are the very best place to work. We remain committed to addressing all workplace issues in a forthright and prompt manner.”

Activision Blizzard confirmed investigations are underway by the SEC and the EEOC, which were reported by the WSJ. The company says that they are “cooperating” with the investigations.

Kotick also said that the Company continues to productively engage with regulators, including the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) with the goal of improving its workplace policies and procedures and ensuring compliance.

The Company is actively engaged in continued discussions with the EEOC and has cooperated with the EEOC’s investigation concerning certain employment practices. It also confirmed that it is complying with a recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) subpoena issued to the Company and several current and former employees and executives regarding disclosures on employment matters and related issues. The Company is confident in its prior disclosures and is cooperating with the SEC’s investigation.

In addition, Activision Blizzard states that they have made several changes to the company and the company’s culture. They state that there have been many exits from the company and have “refreshed” their HR team.

Activision Blizzard recently announced the hiring of Julie Hodges as their new Chief People Officer, who will be responsible for HR. Hodges begins her role on Sept. 21. She replaces the current head of HR, who has left the company.

Activision Blizzard has made a number of important improvements including significant changes to personnel, exiting a number of employees, and expanding compliance resources. In addition, the Company has refreshed its HR organization and, this week, will welcome a new Chief People Officer, Julie Hodges, who joins the Company from The Walt Disney Company. The Company has also expanded training, performance management, and anti-harassment resources.

We’ll continue to provide updates on the situation with Activision Blizzard.

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Activision Blizzard hires new head of HR as harassment lawsuit scandal continues

Activision Blizzard hires two new executives as fallout over the harassment lawsuit continues.

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Activision Blizzard has announced the hiring of two new senior executives as the company continues to face challenges with the harassment and diversity lawsuit.

The new executives will join later this month, with one coming from The Walt Disney Company, and other from Delta Airlines.

The first new hire is Julie Hodges, who will be joining the company as the Chief People Officer. Hodges worked at The Walt Disney Company for years.

Activision Blizzard says she will be responsible for building and reshaping the company’s corporate HR and people team.

Activision Blizzard’s press release describes her role as:

Ms. Hodges brings more than three decades of global human resources experience in entertainment and an impeccable record of shaping corporate culture. She will be responsible for the company’s global talent organization, making Activision Blizzard the destination for top talent. In her role, she will lead all aspects of human resources, including diversity, equity and inclusion, talent acquisition, employee experience, learning and development, compensation and benefits and workforce planning.

“I can’t think of a better person to join our team and help lead our ongoing commitment to an inclusive workplace,” Kotick said. “Julie is the seasoned leader we need to ensure we are the most inspiring, equitable and emulated entertainment company in the world.”

“I share the company’s belief that a work environment should welcome all perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds,” Hodges said. “A workforce where everyone feels valued is critical to the success of our business, as is a trusting, engaging and safe environment that encourages creativity and innovation and in which all employees can thrive. It takes a collective effort to do this, and I’m looking forward to ensuring that we support the diversity of our talent to bring our people together and continue creating amazing entertainment.”

Per the company’s press release, the current Chief People Officer Claudine Naughton is leaving the company. This comes as Activision Blizzard is engulfed in the harassment and diversity lawsuit scandal in the state of California.

The lawsuit, which first came to light on July 21, has shined a light on many of the incidents that took place at Activision Blizzard – from sexual harassment, in-equality, lack of diversity, and more.

The state of California recently further updated their lawsuit to claim Activision Blizzard’s HR team was shredding documents relevant to their investigation.

Ms. Hodges will start her role on September 21 in a rocky time for the company. Employees continue to demand action and change from the executives, including the removal of arbitration clauses. The employees formed a group recently, A Better ABK, to jointly file a labor suit against the company.

The company said in the press release that these new hires will “help the company build a more inclusive workplace as well as diversify and grow its revenue.”

Activision Blizzard also announced another new executive joining the company. Sandeep Dube will join the company from Delta Airlines as the new Chief Commercial Officer. Dube replaces Armin Zerza’s open role, who was promoted to Chief Financial Officer.

Activision Blizzard press release says Mr. Dube will oversee Activision’s global Sales and Go-To-Market teams. He will be responsible for developing and implementing commercial strategy and delivering on the company’s revenue growth plan.

“Sandeep is a rare leader who not only has the ability to expand our global go-to-market teams, but also bring his diverse experience from an accomplished career to unite our commercial group,” Mr. Kotick said. “Our mission is to connect and engage the world through epic entertainment. While Sandeep connected the world through air travel at Delta, he created a growth-oriented culture that was focused on the very best customer experiences. The innovations he inspired created incredible customer loyalty. We are excited to continue our work on revenue growth with an even greater focus on recognizing and rewarding our players.”

Mr. Dube said, “I couldn’t be more excited to join this team and work together to continue building our inclusive culture and to expand our audiences.”

Dube will start his role on September 27.

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