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Activision shareholder group calls for Bobby Kotick and board members’ resignation

Washington Post reports letter to board says Kotick failed to act

Robert “Bobby” Kotick, president and CEO of Activision Blizzard, arrives for the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in 2015 Photo: Bloomberg via Getty Images

A group of Activision Blizzard shareholders are calling for the resignation of the company’s CEO, Bobby Kotick, and two long-serving members of its board of directors, a day after the Wall Street Journal reported that Kotick was aware of sexual assault and misconduct allegations that he did not disclose to the board. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that shareholders, led by the Strategic Organizing Center Investment Group, requested in a letter to the board of directors that Kotick, and board members Brian Kelly and Robert Morgado, retire by Dec. 31.

According to WaPo’s report, the investment group’s letter says that Kotick was “aware of many incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault and gender discrimination at Activision Blizzard, but failed either to ensure that the executives and managers responsible were terminated or to recognize and address the systematic nature of the company’s hostile workplace culture.”

That shareholder group, which includes SOC Investment Group and other investors, represents about 4.8 million owned shares in Activision Blizzard — a small fraction of the video game publisher’s total outstanding 778.89 million shares.

SOC Investment Group likewise expressed a lack of confidence in Kotick in a letter to board member Robert Morgado in August, after the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued Activision Blizzard, saying that the CEO’s response to allegations of misconduct and proposed changes “do not go nearly far enough to address the deep and widespread issues with equity, inclusion, and human capital management at the company.”

The investment group says in its mission statement that it “holds corporations and their leadership accountable for irresponsible and unethical corporate behavior and excessive executive pay, reflecting the long-term interests of workers and their families invested in union pension funds.” SOC has previously taken issue with Kotick’s compensation, which is among the highest for chief executives in the U.S.

Activision Blizzard board members Brian Kelly and Robert Morgado have served on the game publisher’s board of directors for decades. Kelly has been with the company since 1991, and has served as a board director since 1995, and as chairman since 2013. Morgado has been a director since 1997.

The shareholder group joins calls from Activision Blizzard employees for Kotick’s resignation, as well as the resignations of Activision Blizzard chief compliance officer Fran Townsend and chief administrative officer Brian Bulatao. Employees staged a walkout from work on Tuesday, both virtually and in-person, following the Wall Street Journal’s report that exposed new allegations of sexual assault, harassment, and unequal pay at the game maker.

[Disclosure: Casey Wasserman is on the board of directors for Activision Blizzard as well as the board of directors of Vox Media, Polygon’s parent company.]

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