Controversial Activision CCO Steps Down Ahead Of Microsoft Deal

Controversial Activision CCO Steps Down Ahead Of Microsoft Deal
Images via Activision Blizzard

Written by 

Tom Chapman


3rd Oct 2022 11:27

It's slow and steady progress, but finally, it looks like things are changing over at Activision Blizzard. Now, the company's controversial Chief Compliance Officer is stepping down ahead of the massive Microsoft acquisition that sees a big change for Call of Duty

In July 2021, the gaming industry was rocked to the core by a two-year investigation from the California Department of Fair Employment. A case was brought against Activision Blizzard amidst allegations of a frat boy culture and sexual harassment from within its ranks and the now-infamous Cosby Suite. Little has changed... until now. 

Why Is Activision Blizzard's CCO Leaving?

According to Bloomberg, Frances Townsend will step down ahead of the record-breaking $68.7 million deal that sees Activision Blizzard enveloped by Microsoft. Townsend has become a divisive figure in the aftermath of the accusations, with the CCO calling them "distorted" and "false."

Townsend walked back these comments and claimed that her statement was twisted, so it no longer sounded like her voice, however, she was called out for sharing an article called "The Problem With Whistleblowing" on social media. Not long after, she stepped away from being an Executive Sponsor of the ABK Women's Network.

If this wasn't enough, Townend went on a blocking spree against Activision Blizzard employees and eventually deleted her Twitter entirely. What makes Townsend even more of a public hate figure is the fact she served as the assistant for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism to President George W. Bush. After this, she stepped up as Activision Blizzard CCO in March 2021.


What's Next For Activision Blizzard?

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Microsoft | Activision Blizzard

Kotick is due to remain as Activision Blizzard CEO, and responding to the news of Townsend's departure, wrote an email stating: "Fran did a truly exceptional job—actually four jobs—with continuously increasing responsibilities and the most exemplary work ethic. Fran also has done an extraordinary job enhancing the strong governance and compliance programs we have throughout the Company."

Still, Townsend is due to remain on board in some capacity, serving as Senior Advisor to equally divisive CEO, Bobby Kotick. As for Kotick, it looks like he'll stay with the company as it charts new waters. Despite whispers that Microsoft doesn't know what to do with Kotick, the Activision Board (unsurprisingly) voted to keep him as incumbent CEO. With a continuously shaky hold on power, it remains to be seen if other high-ranking Activision Blizzard officials will follow suit. 

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