Microsoft Reportedly Hasn't Decided What To Do With Bobby Kotick
It's time to discuss the elephant CEO in the room. If you cast your mind back to the start of this year, who'd have thought that Activision Blizzard would go from the shameful son of the gaming world to suddenly being Microsoft's golden boy? The $69.7 billion acquisition was a record-breaking deal that brought the troubled publisher firmly into the Xbox family.
In the months that followed, the industry was busy looking at who Microsoft and Sony would buy next, as the new-gen console wars burned brighter than ever. Unfortunately, it means the stories from the Activision Blizzard accusers were swept under the rug and things largely returned to being business as usual. Amidst allegations, scandals, and frat boy culture from behind the doors of the infamous "Cosby Suite", CEO Bobby Kotick has remained a divisive figurehead.
What's Next For Bobby Kotick?
Caught in a minefield of legalities and tattered reputations, it's unclear whether Kotick's position as CEO will be extended beyond his current contract. Now, Axios' Stephen Totilo (via VGC) claims that those at the top of Microsoft haven't even discussed it yet. Posting on Twitter, the journalist explained how Microsoft has added a line relating to Kotick's future into its 8-K filing for the Activision Blizzard purchase.
Elsewhere, the US Securities and Exchange Commission confirms that Kotick is the sole executive to hold change-of-control protection, meaning he could be facing a payout of millions if he's replaced following the deal. Apparently, no talks about what to do with Kotick were discussed prior to the merger, which could now bite Microsoft in the backside.
If this wasn't enough, the fact that Kotick owns 4.09 million shares of Activision Blizzard means that if he walked, he'll likely earn a cool $388 million. It's a parachute that's so golden, even Midas is jealous. It'll more than make up for the voluntary pay cut he took, or when he later asked for a minimum salary of just $62,500 in the wake of the allegations.
Will Bobby Kotick Step Down?
Kotick himself is now something of an albatross hanging around the neck of Microsoft's Phil Spencer. As well as a second lawsuit on top of the one put forward by the state of California, there are claims that Activision Blizzard fiddled the numbers about how many allegations were made by employees. Thousands of staff signed a petition to have Kotick removed, and yet, he's still entrenched within Activision Blizzard towers.
When the deal was first reported, a leaked email from Kotick said the following: "I will continue as our CEO with the same passion and enthusiasm I had when I began this amazing journey in 1991." The deal is expected to complete next year at the earliest, so there's still time to decide what happens next. At one point, there were claims Kotick would step down from his position at the top of Activision Blizzard if things couldn't be fixed "quickly." For the time being though, it doesn't look like the shamed CEO is going anywhere.