Bobby Kotick's reign at Activision Blizzard ends December 29, 2023

So long, and thanks for all the toxic-workplace lawsuits.

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We knew it was coming, but now we have a date: Bobby Kotick will officially step down as CEO of Activision Blizzard on December 29, 2023. Blizzard and King vice chairman Humam Sakhnini will also leave at the end of December, Activision Blizzard chief communications officer Lulu Meservey is out in January, and a handful of other executives will leave in March, according to an internal memo from Xbox head Phil Spencer published by The Verge.

Activision Blizzard vice chairman Thomas Tippl, Blizzard president Mike Ybarra and King president Tjodolf Sommestad will remain at the studio and report to Matt Booty, Microsoft's president of gaming content and studios. Otherwise, leadership teams across Activision, Blizzard and King will stay the same, according to the memo.

Kotick has been the head of Activision since 1991. At Activision Blizzard, he oversaw massively popular franchises including Call of Duty, Diablo, Starcraft and World of Warcraft, and once the company acquired mobile studio King in 2016, he added Candy Crush to that list. The company is a AAA powerhouse and it generated $7.5 billion in revenue in 2022.

Activision Blizzard was sued by California's Civil Rights Department in 2021 over allegations of systemic sexism, discrimination and harassment at the studio, and executives were accused of fostering a frat-house style culture. At the time, all top leadership roles at Activision Blizzard were filled by white men. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a separate, related lawsuit against the studio a few months later. In November 2021, The Wall Street Journal reported Kotick had long ignored and helped cover up instances of sexual harassment at the studio. In response, workers at Activision Blizzard held walk-outs and demanded Kotick's resignation, but a shareholder vote in 2022 kept him in place.

Activision Blizzard settled the SEC lawsuit for $35 million in February, and it settled the California CRD suit for $54 million just days ago.

Microsoft announced its intent to purchase Activision Blizzard in early 2022, lawsuits and all. The deal was valued at $69 billion, and considering the scale of both companies involved, it faced intense scrutiny from regulators in the US and the UK. The acquisition was approved in October, after 21 months of legal arguments and concessions. Microsoft is now the third-largest video game studio in the world by revenue and it's the face of the ongoing consolidation craze tearing through the industry.

Once Microsoft's purchase went through, Kotick said he'd stay on through the end of 2023. According to Bloomberg, Kotick is set to make $375 million from the acquisition, and he's expecting a golden parachute of $14.6 million.

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