Activision Blizzard is being sued by NYC, this time for money

Bobby Kotick clumsily scratches his neck at an event.

photo: Drew Angerer (Getty Images)

Activision Blizzard is coming (how it feels) it is 8,583,129 legal actionas first reported by axios. This hails from New York City and claims that longtime CEO Bobby Kotick went in search of a buyer for the mega-publishing company, which he has run for 30 years, specifically to avoid the consequences for publicizing claims about widespread turns a blind eye to cases of harassment in the company.

Activision Blizzard publishing franchises as call of Duty and World of Warcraft, has faced some serious reckoning over the past year. Last summer, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed a lawsuit against the publisher, alleging that it had a deep-seated culture of abuse, harassment and discrimination that was reported further detailed in a series of press inquiries. A July 2021 report kotaku, for example, introduced the so-called “Cosby Suite” at BlizzCon, the company’s annual festival. In November, the Wall Street Journal reported that not only was Kotick aware of despicable behavior during his tenure—he was, too allegedly involved in some pretty shitty shit self.

Earlier this year, Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard in an exceptionally unprecedented deal for nearly $70 billion. Talks for this takeover that was approved by the investors but still needs to get the green light from regulators, started three days after Wall Street Journal‘s bomb report. Since then, Activision Blizzard has been sued multiple times, both by official bodies and by individual plaintiffs. Last September, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against the companyalthough that was Paid $18 million. March, an unnamed woman sued the publisher, and claims she faced retaliation for reporting sexual harassment to Human Resources. The company is too with regard to a class action lawsuit.

This latest lawsuit, filed in a Delaware court by NYC’s Employees’ Retirement System late last month, essentially sees Activision Blizzard open its books and proves the industry-shattering deal was not intended to provide cover for Kotick . (In February, summoned to the DFEH the Los Angeles Police Department for possible criminal records for Kotick.) As axios notes that New York City has been pushing Activision Blizzard for months to access these documents.

“With the announced merger, Kotick will be able to shirk all liability and accountability and will instead continue to serve as an officer after the merger is complete,” the plaintiffs write in the lawsuit. “Worse, despite his potential liability for breaches of fiduciary duty, the [company’s] Board allowed Kotick itself to negotiate the transaction with Microsoft. The board’s decision to entrust Kotick with the negotiation process is inexcusable with the additional reason that Kotick will personally receive significant material benefits, the value of which does not directly equate to the merger price.”

If the deal goes through, Kotick to win personally Hundreds of millions of dollars in what is commonly referred to as a “golden parachute”; Microsoft is offering Activision Blizzard at $95 per share, which is about the price it was floating around last summerbefore the complaint by the DFEH became public.

As for what happens if it’s approved, Microsoft hasn’t publicly confirmed in one way or another whether or not Kotick will remain in his role as the company’s CEO. In an investor call in January, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said he was “grateful for it [Kotick’s] Leadership,” but gave no indication of Kotick’s future role. Additionally, a press release at the time didn’t specifically clarify whether or not Kotick would remain CEO after the deal. Instead, it said, “Activision Blizzard’s business will report to Phil Spencer,” who heads Microsoft’s gaming division.

Kotick officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

When reached for comment, a representative from Activision sent Blizzard over kotaku the following statement: “We do not agree with the allegations made in this complaint and look forward to presenting our arguments to the court.” Activision Blizzard is being sued by NYC, this time for money

Curtis Crabtree

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