Report: Vivendi Considered Firing Activision CEO Bobby Kotick

July 16, 2014 - GamePolitics Staff

According to a Bloomberg report there was a serious discussion by Vivendi executives whether they should fire Activision CEO Bobby Kotick. That discussion happened last May while they were discussing selling Vivendi's stake back to Activision.

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Activision Blizzard Completes Deal with Vivendi, Takes Control of Stock

October 14, 2013 - GamePolitics Staff

Activision Blizzard has closed a deal to buy back shares from France-based conglomerate Vivendi a day after a Delaware Supreme Court judge lifted an injunction on the plan put on the deal by a lower court judge in response to several shareholder lawsuits.

With the deal complete Activision Blizzard now has a controlling interest in itself. Activision Blizzard now owns $5.83 billion of stock, with CEO Bobby Kotick and his partners owning $2.34 billion. Vivendi's stake has been reduced significantly to 12 percent.

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Activision Blizzard Stock Repurchase Plan Gets Greenlight by Delaware Supreme Court

October 11, 2013 - GamePolitics Staff

The Delaware Supreme Court unanimously reversed a lower court ruling that put a temporary injunction on Activision Blizzard‘s plan to buy back most of Vivendi’s stake in the video game maker for $8.2 billion.

With the injunction lifted, Activision Blizzard can move forward with the plan. In a hearing on Wednesday, lawyers for Activision Blizzard argued that the provision was inapplicable, since it applied only to a merger, while the company’s plan was a stock repurchase.

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Delaware Court Issues Preliminary Injunction Against Activision Blizzard-Vivendi Deal

September 19, 2013 - GamePolitics Staff

A Delaware Chancery Court has issued a preliminary injunction against a plan that would see Activision Blizzard separate itself from parent company Vivendi with a stock repurchase program. The court blocked the deal after multiple lawsuits were filed by shareholders seeking to block the deal. The transaction will be halted until its terms are modified on appeal or the transaction is approved by a shareholder vote of "non-Vivendi stockholders."

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Shareholder Sues Activision Blizzard Execs Over Vivendi Buy Back Deal

August 2, 2013 -

Activision Blizzard shareholder Todd Miller filed a derivative lawsuit on Thursday against the company and other parties associated with an $8.17 billion deal to buy back a controlling interest from major stakeholder Vivendi. In his lawsuit filed in Superior Court, Miller claims that the deal to buy back stock from Vivendi gives "insiders" a windfall of more than $600 million on the discounted sale of stock from Vivendi, while Activision Blizzard shareholders get no enrichment from the deal.

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CEO Robert Kotick Leads $8.2 Billion Activision Blizzard Buyout

July 26, 2013 -

Activision Blizzard announced that it will purchase approximately 601 million shares from Vivendi to the tune of $8.2 billion with the help of outside investments. There had been some talk that Vivendi would force Activision into giving Vivendi a special dividend of $2 - $3 billion to raise funds for paying down debt. Vivendi currently holds a controlling stake in the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft publishers, but this plan would make Activision an independent entity again.

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Bobby Kotick: The $65 Million Dollar Man

April 29, 2013 -

Update: A representative for Activision points out that Bloomberg has updated its original story, and that because Activision is a public company it has to account for compensation in the year it is granted, even though the amount of performance-based compensation Kotick would receive under the new agreement he signed in 2012 would be vested over a five year period. Here's the update from the Bloomberg story we sourced:

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Bobby Kotick Acknowledges the Challenges of Bringing Call of Duty to China

July 6, 2012 -

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick admitted in a recent interview with CNBC Asia’s Squawk Box that bringing Call of Duty Online to market in China is a risky proposition. While Kotick expresses confidence in Tencent Holdings in making the game based on its popular first-person shooter series successful in Mainland China, Kotick also knows that there is a risk when bringing a Western game into a new market with different business models and player tastes.

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Schafer on Kotick: Maybe He Should Sell Ball Bearings

July 14, 2010 -

Double Fine Productions founder Tim Schafer didn’t pull any punches when talking about Activision CEO Bobby Kotick at this week’s Develop Conference in the UK.

To be fair, as Crave notes, Schafer’s Brutal Legend game was originally going to be published by Activision before it merged with Blizzard. The game was dropped and eventually published by Electronic arts, which could have contributed to some of the bad taste in Schafer’s mouth.

Among Schafer’s comments on Kotick:

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Kotick Not Much of a Gamer Anymore

February 19, 2010 -

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is definitely not afraid to speak his mind, which may or may not be a good thing for investors in his company. His recent comments at the D.I.C.E. Summit did nothing to change that perception.

While Kotaku labeled his speech “warm and fuzzy,” one section of his talk centered on why he doesn’t play games anymore, and caught our attention:

I play from time to time, but the nature of my personality is such that if I was regularly playing Modern Warfare 2, I would not be able to stop and it would be at the expense of all my regular responsibilities.

What does it say about the addictiveness of videogames if the CEO of the third largest publisher in the world can’t play games because of his addictive personality? Granted, as CEO, Kotick’s days are probably packed incredibly tight, and, as he admitted, he is a single father to three daughters, so it’s probably commendable that he puts aside games for work and his family, Still, it’s not a stretch to imagine videogame critics jumping all over Kotick’s quote and using it in future assaults on videogames.

What do you think? Another case of Kotick sticking his foot in it, or is this just a case of a CEO letting his hair down and talking from the heart?

Kotick's full speech embedded via G4.

22 comments

Angry Gamers Considering Activision Boycott

August 9, 2009 -

Activision Blizzard, the world's largest video game publisher, has been raising the ire of many gamers of late. So much so, in fact, that there is at least preliminary talk of a boycott of Activision products.

So what has the publisher done to create so much ill will?

A few things, actually.

UK gamers are incensed over Activision's plan to price the upcoming Modern Warfare 2 at £54.99 (roughly US$90). Wedbush-Morgan analyst Michael Pachter ominously described the move as a trial run for Activision:

Activision knows it has a 'hot' game, knows that the market will pay an additional 10 per cent, and has decided to increase price accordingly.

Game consumers are also concerned about Activision's pricing plans for specialty controllers for the upcoming Tony Hawk: Ride and DJ Hero.

Adding gasoline to the fire was a recent comment by Activision Blizzard CEO. During an earnings call last week, Kotick said:

You know if it was left to me, I would raise the prices even further.

PS3 News reports that some gamers are planning a boycott and links to an online petition which has garnered nearly 5,000 signatures to date. From the petition:

You're increasingly making your fanbase more angry. Your recent moves on the business side are head scratching and completely apauling [sic]. Tony Hawk peripherals to start, PC and UK price hikes and ridiculously overpriced collectors editions for MW2... Than [sic] your CEO decided to further anger your customers... I believe we are in what we call a "recession." What the consumer needs is not more expensive items, but less expensive...

UPDATE: Activision boss Kotick made $15 million last year, reports gamesindustry.biz. You keep raising those prices, Bobby...

Ars Technica Rips Activision Blizzard CEO

January 22, 2009 -

Don't invite Ben Kuchera of Ars Technica and Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick to the same party.

Yesterday, Kuchera penned a surprisingly personal criticism of the long-time CEO, including a photo of Kotick with devil's horns added (left). In the column, Kuchera refers to Kotick as "a carpetbagger," "the devil," "brazen," and possessed of a "cash lust."

At issue seems to be Kuchera's feeling that Kotick is all about the Benjamins, not the games:

That's why I find Bobby Kotick so distasteful—the man is a carpetbagger... usually, when you put the devil in charge, you have the good graces to at least keep a smooth-talking demon or two around to deal with the press. With Kotick, he's very brazen about his need to squeeze every last dollar he can out of every franchise under the Activision Blizzard label. He wants to exploit his games. He wants to make sure he has a sequel every year, and don't forget the Wii and DS ports. Why have one StarCraft game if you can have three?...

Kotick doesn't play his games, and it shows. He has a tin ear when it comes to speaking to investors or the press. This is a guy who looks at the balance sheets of World of Warcraft and wants more, more, more... and it's doubtful he even knows the name of Azeroth. Under his control, Activision Blizzard has started to look and feel like the Shire at the end of the Lord of the Rings (and by that, I mean the books' vision)...

World of Warcraft may look like it will go on forever, but the only thing greater than the loyalty of those players is Kotick's cash-lust. The only question is if the two will ever collide...

Whatever one might think of the man, Kotick clearly has business acumen. He was runner-up as Marketwatch's CEO of the Year for 2008 and is currently featured on the cover of Forbes. In fact, the business mag's profile of Kotick comes in for a mention by Kuchera. Some gamers are upset by a line penned by writer Peter Beller and not attributed to the Activision Blizzard CEO:

EA also teamed with MTV to sell Rock Band, a shameless knockoff of Guitar Hero that added drums, bass and a microphone to the world of make-believe rock stars.

42 comments

Activision Boss is Runner-up for CEO of 2008

December 4, 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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Michael ChandraSo be smart, and if you want to be part of the good guys, separate yourself from the bad guys. Don't attack those upset you won't.09/18/2014 - 6:30am
Michael ChandraMeanwhile, Gamergate is tainted and wise people already use a different tag to defend decent arguments. Keeping it up is like going #KKK while arguing about PoC.09/18/2014 - 6:30am
Michael ChandraSo while claiming to be unfairly attacked for the actions of a selected few, you unfairly attack an entire crowd for the actions of a selected few? #notagamer #butahater09/18/2014 - 6:30am
james_fudgeQuiknkold: Let me ask you- how many of those 'gamers are dead' articles did you see here? Because apparently i'm part of some vast conspiracy.09/18/2014 - 5:18am
NeenekoAh, that old straw man. That is one of the ironies about the discussion, the whole point is showing how good people can still have problems with sexism and not realize it.09/17/2014 - 9:11pm
Andrew EisenYes, there have been a handful of op-eds suggesting that the term “gamer” has become tainted (two that I know of) but that’s the opinion of only a few. I've seen an equal number from those who disagree.09/17/2014 - 8:55pm
Andrew EisenExcept, you haven't provided a single example of a site that’s actually calling gamers a "collective of Sexist White Bigoted Basement Dwelling Manchildren."09/17/2014 - 8:55pm
TechnogeekIf you want to make the stereotype of gamers less painful, try calling people out when they do bad shit rather than handwave it away as "not all gamers". Even if it is a few bad apples, that'll still more than enough to spoil the barrel.09/17/2014 - 8:53pm
quiknkoldI'm not going to Sell Gamergate anymore. It can sell itself. But I will sell the integrity of the Gamer. That we are still good people, who create and donate to charitys, Who engage with those around us and just want to have a good time.09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
quiknkoldpeople should not be harrassed and punished for the actions of a few. I've always welcomed and accepted everybody who wanted to join in. Who wanted to make them, or play them. I love good strong female protagonists, and want more.09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
quiknkoldOne of the tennants of Gamergate is to stand up against Harrassment. That Gamers arent like those assholes. We can argue for days if the Sexism or Antifeminism or corruption is there or not, But the one thing I believe in and wear on my sleave is that09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
quiknkoldBut there were these websites, attacking me and people like me, for the actions of a few. and then others joined in on Twitter and other places. there was a hashtag that said "explain in 4 words a gamer" and it made me sick.09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
quiknkoldManchildren who are awful people and that the Identity of the Gamer should die. This hurt me personally. I've always identified as a Gamer. Even in my childhood years, I was a Gamer. All my friends are Gamers. Its one of the core parts of my identity.09/17/2014 - 7:34pm
quiknkoldUltimately, With the whole Gamergate thing, I jumped on it due to the harassment. A small number of assholes harrass Anita and Zoe, and then all the publications lumped together Gamers as this collective of Sexist White Bigoted Basement Dwelling09/17/2014 - 7:34pm
quiknkoldEZacharyKnight : Lemme ask you a question. We have people who cling to walls, people who fire lasers from their eyes, people who can shapeshift....and yet fabric needs to be upheld to RL physics?09/17/2014 - 6:54pm
james_fudgebody paint?09/17/2014 - 5:33pm
E. Zachary Knightquiknkold, I stand corrected on the buttcrack thing. Still, I know of no fabric that actually does that.09/17/2014 - 5:05pm
Andrew EisenSo... it's unethical to discuss the ethics surrounding public interest vs. personal privacy?09/17/2014 - 4:45pm
prh99The source for the game was just released not long ago, it's at https://github.com/keendreams/keen09/17/2014 - 4:43pm
prh99An Indiegogo champagin bought the rights to the early 90's game Keen Dreams to make it open source and release it on GOG etc. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/let-s-get-keen-dreams-re-released-legally09/17/2014 - 4:42pm
 

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