Activision Boss is Runner-up for CEO of 2008

Marketwatch has named Activision’s Bobby Kotick as one of four runners-up for its 2008 CEO of the Year award.

The respected financial website offers effusive praise for Kotick, along with an amusing tale of how the Activision-Blizzard merger got done:

When [Blizzard CEO] Mike Morhaime first met Kotick, he was looking for a low-key setting to avoid sparking the sort of chatter that often emerges when high-profile business leaders meet in public. Morhaime… chose a steakhouse near his company’s Irvine, Calif., headquarters. But he ended up booking a large banquet room by mistake, leaving the two alone and rather conspicuous for the nearly four hours during which they contemplated the potential of a merger creating a new leader in the video-game business…


"We wanted to keep it low-key, which was pretty hard to do in this huge room with just the two of us there," Morhaime recalled with a laugh.

Marketwatch notes that Kotick has gamer roots, spending his college days playing text adventure Mystery House as well as arcade classic Defender. Kotick told Marketwatch that he gave up gaming due to an "addictive personality."

The most interesting part of the story, however, is how Kotick came to acquire Activision – and how cheaply:

Kotick and partner Brian Kelly bought a small company that handled licensing for Nintendo’s game characters… But Kotick had his eye on making games, so Nintendo  pointed him to Activision, which had made the popular game "Pitfall" for Atari but had since changed its name to Mediagenic in an effort to expand into other areas of software development.


Its move ultimately failed, landing Mediagenic in bankruptcy. Kotick and Kelly bought the company in 1990 for less than $500,000…

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  1. 0
    Ashkihyena says:

    And that’s all thats going to happen, cause I hate him, and quite frankly, I hate the fact that he even got nominated, so yeah, I’m not really going to say anything else on the matter.

  2. 0
    hayabusa75 says:

    Even if you could somehow prove that, it’s irrelevant.  Part of the reason he’s up for recognition is the role he played in making the merger happen.  It’s not like the merger happened five years ago, he got hired later, and is just riding the success someone else created.  If that was the case, I’d agree more with that statement.

    And I’m not trying to change your opinion so much as I’m trying to get you to back up the things you’re saying.  So far, all you’ve pretty much done is repeat your position without responding to opposing viewpoints.  So c’mon, how about it?

    "There is no sin except stupidity." – Oscar Wilde

  3. 0
    Ashkihyena says:

    And he still needs a good kick in the butt, and thats my opinion, and its not changing.  As for his company, if they weren’t on Blizzardsupport, he wouldn’t be on that list.


  4. 0
    Parallax Abstraction says:

    I agree with this completely.  Phil Harrison has taken Atari from a nuthouse run by idiots on the brink of bankruptcy to a position where they might be making real money soon.  They’ve been picking up a lot of great properties on the cheap that they can make a lot of money on given their low overhead and they’re really focusing on good brands and IP rather than just trying to shove stuff out the door as quickly as possible to make a quick buck.  He’s got a very good chance at turning that company around and making them into a powerhouse publisher again.  He might finally break the curse of the Atari name.  Notice how you never hear observations like this from supposed industry experts like Pachter.  That Harrison gets ignored while franchise whores like Bobby Kotick who have all but stated that he’s about milking consumers get honoured proves just how run by pure greed US business is.

  5. 0
    insanejedi says:

    I think the best gaming CEO of the year should go to Phil Harrason at Atari, but that’s only influenced because of recent events this month. Next year he should win, he’s bringing Atari back.

  6. 0
    hayabusa75 says:

    You guys are making too much out of his comments.  I’m not an Activision apologist or anything, but read the article Vortex posted again and look at the context.  He’s not trying to say he doesn’t care what the consumer thinks, he’s trying to summarize his company’s business model.  So he’s taken the conservative approach, what’s so inherently bad about that?  It’s easy to sit here and whine that he’s not taking chances when it’s not your ass and job on the line.

    To use a sports analogy, take Terrell Owens.  Most people will agree that he’s an arrogant prick, and that’s one thing.  However, he works hard to be one of the best and almost no one will say he sucks as a player because the results speak for themselves.  You can not like the guy, but if you say he sucks you look like an idiot because he clearly doesn’t.

    Same thing with Kotick.  You may not like the way he plays the game, but his team has been winning, at least according to Marketwatch.

    "There is no sin except stupidity." – Oscar Wilde

  7. 0
    Ashkihyena says:

    Its to bad to be honest, cause this guy is a douchebag, plain and simple.


    "Do they have more IP to work with?" – No, cause they shove all the new IPs out in favor of Guitar Hero.  I hope they go out of business someday.

  8. 0
    DeepThorn says:

    Point taken.  I didn’t think about it that way, I thought about it as a when they do right after…  EA isn’t doing hot, and still Activision will be #2 because Nintendo would still be #1, even though they are a console developer too.  It just depends what chart you look at and what stats you look at anyways.

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  9. 0
    hayabusa75 says:

    I can understand some of you not being pleased with some of Kotick’s decisions, but the discontent seems to come from decisions on specific games.  Remember, his first duty is to the shareholders, and the only way to keep them happy is to keep the company profitable.  There could be any number of reasons why game A was kept and game B was dropped, we don’t know.  But I’ll tell you one thing, I’m pretty sure one of them WASN’T just to piss off the consumer.

    Like him or not, read the facts and figures in the article (you all DID read the article, right?) and tell me honestly that he doesn’t deserve at least the nomination.

    "There is no sin except stupidity." – Oscar Wilde

  10. 0
    hayabusa75 says:

    Nobody said they were, they talked about the potetntial of the merger to enable them to someday become an industry leader.  It’s not going to happen overnight, and if the market comparisons between them and EA that I read in the article continue, they’re going to be catching up REAL fast.

    "There is no sin except stupidity." – Oscar Wilde

  11. 0
    Ashkihyena says:

    At least Atari is taking risk, and I priase them for that, if it wasn’t for them, I don’t know what the fate of Ghostbusters would be.  God, Activision, I really hope they go out of business one day, though being partenered with Blizzard, it probably won’t happen.

  12. 0
    Brokenscope says:

    People, you need to realize that the moment a company does an IPO, creativity and new idea’s take a firm second to profits and shareholder value.

    If you want a company that focuses on risky and creative games. You want a company backed by a billionare that doesn’t mind throwing money into a possible rat hole.

  13. 0
    Brokenscope says:

    Did his company make expected, or better than expected profits?

    Did the Company see growth?

    Did they increase their market share?

    Do they have more IP to work with?

    Did they improve shareholder value?

    If the answer is yes to most of these, then they did a good job.

    I hate to break it to you, but your criteria of a good CEO isn’t being what marketwatch is using.



    Oh yeah, and if I was a TTWO shareholder, I’d think strauss zelnick was the worst CEO.

  14. 0
    insanejedi says:

    No… By far he is the WORST CEO I’ve ever seen this year. (Granted I only know of TTWO, EA, and Acti CEO’s, even Gamestops CEO) But he’s really really bad this year. "were going to triple our GH games by 2010!" "Army of Two and Tom Clancy Vegas 2 suck compared to Call of Duty 4!" "Pay us money for GH:WT for the privilage of YOU making note tracks and songs." "Were killing Brutal Legend, World in Conflict, Riddick, and Ghostbusters. Later!" I think he also talked mess about the Bond license with EA when Solice is now getting very middling reviews, going like. "We aren’t going to taint the Bond with crap like how EA did!" 

    Seriously? Like seriously? 


  15. 0
    Ashkihyena says:


    I’m sure you know how I feel about that, especally after this douchebag dropped Ghostbusters.

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