Activision Blizzard is being acquired by Microsoft, but its troubled CEO will stay on

January 18, 2022, 2:27 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Naomi Osaka is back in a Grand Slam, women in menopause may call it quits, and the Activision Blizzard saga continues. Have a great Tuesday.

– Dozens of bad actors. One of the biggest blockbuster stories of 2021 was the Wall Street Journal‘s reporting that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick had for years known about sexual misconduct allegations—including rape—at the video game giant and had hid them from the company’s board.

As Kristen wrote at the time, the kind of behavior detailed in the reporting was stomach-churning and the idea that Kotick could still hang on to his job—even after being implicated himself by an assistant who accused him of threatening to have her killed—was “infuriating.” A company spokeswoman said Kotick wouldn’t have been informed about every report of misconduct, “nor would he reasonably be expected to have been updated on all personnel issues.” And he “regrets” the alleged incident with his assistant.

Kotick has faced calls to step down, including from nearly a fifth of Activision’s 10,000 employees who signed a petition that he resign. He has said would consider leaving his post if he can’t quickly fix Activision’s cultural crisis.

Now, two pieces of news suggest this story is far from over.

First, the Journal reported that Activision is carrying out a clean-up effort—an enormous one at that. The company has pushed out 37 employees and disciplined 44 more after investigations into bad behavior. The paper reports that the company has received some 700 employee complaints about misconduct and other concerns since July, though Activision disputes that figure.

Those numbers are only public because of the Journal’s reporting. According to the the WSJ report, the company was supposed to disclose a summary of its personnel actions before the holidays, but Kotick put off its release because it would make the company’s crisis seem even worse. Activision disputes that account. “Our focus is making sure we have accurate data and analysis to share,” a spokeswoman said. Any delay tactics by Kotick would seem to conflict with his effort to address Activision’s cultural problems expeditiously and make even that big number of exits—37—one too few.

Then, just moments ago, the second bombshell: Microsoft announced it was buying Activision Blizzard for roughly $70 billion. Microsoft’s press release states Kotick will stay on as Activision CEO after the acquisition.

Claire Zillman

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Claire Zillman


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