Bobby Kotick Will Remain Activision Blizzard CEO Through End Of 2023 Following Microsoft Acquisition
Update, 11:13 a.m. ET, 10/13/23:
Earlier today, Microsoft officially acquired Activision Blizzard for nearly $69 billion. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick revealed he will remain as CEO through the end of the year after Xbox head Phil Spencer asked him to stay to help with the company transition. While staying through the end of the year presumes Kotick will depart from the company in 2024, that remained technically unknown.
However, Bloomberg's Jason Schreier says that Kotick will depart from Activision Blizzard, a company he took over 33 years ago, on January 1, 2024.
As the Microsoft-Activision deal closes, Bobby Kotick says he'll stay on as CEO through the end of the year. On January 1, 2024, Kotick will depart the company he took over 33 years ago — a massive change for the video game industry— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) October 13, 2023
Game Informer has reached out to Activision Blizzard to ask if Kotick will leave on January 1, 2024, and will update this story if we learn more.
The original story continues below...
Original story, 10 a.m. ET, 10/13/23:
After nearly two years since the announcement, Microsoft has officially acquired Activision Blizzard for nearly $69 billion. Now, in emails from Microsoft Gaming CEO and Xbox Head Phil Spencer and Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, we know Kotick will remain CEO through the end of 2023. Kotick says Spencer specifically asked him to remain as CEO through the end of the year to help with the transition, now that Activision Blizzard is part of the Xbox first-party umbrella.
"I have long said that I am fully committed to helping with the transition," Kotick writes in an email he sent to all of Activision Blizzard. "[Phil Spencer] has asked me to stay on as CEO of ABK, reporting to him, and we have agreed that I will do that through the end of 2023. We both look forward to working together on a smooth integration for our teams and players."
Spencer writes in an email, "We couldn't be more excited that Activision Blizzard employees are our colleagues, co-workers, and teammates. Bobby Kotick has agreed to remain in his role through the end of 2023, reporting directly to me, to ensure a smooth and seamless integration. We look forward to working together as a unified team and we will share more updates on our new organizational structure in the coming months."
Since Microsoft announced its intention to acquire Activision Blizzard nearly two years ago for $69 billion, analysts have expected Kotick to take advantage of one of various "golden parachute" options at his disposal as a result of the purchase. As reported by Axios last year, if Kotick is fired/let go after this purchase, he'll be entitled to a $15 million payout.
He could also receive up to $22 million in stock if Activision Blizzard's board sees improvement in company culture, following a 2021 report that Activision Blizzard harbored employee misconduct, sexual harassment, and more. A later report indicated Kotick knew about the company's history of sexual misconduct resulting in employees walking out while demanding his resignation.
Beyond those two options, as of February 2022 in Axios' report, Kotick owns 6.5 million Activision Blizzard shares worth $619 million at Microsoft's price, which he could sell.
While we don't know conclusively if Kotick will leave Activision Blizzard in 2024, or if he will be let go (although Spencer asking him to stay on indicates Kotick will likely leave amicably, on his own terms, next year after the company transitions into the Xbox umbrella), we now know Kotick will remain CEO through the rest of the year.
For more, read about how Microsoft has finally and officially acquired Activision Blizzard. After that, read about how Kotick was reportedly interviewed by former late-night show host James Corden during an employee meeting about Guitar Hero and more.
Do you think Spencer made the right decision to keep Kotick as CEO through 2023? Let us know in the comments below!