Activision CEO allegedly threatened to have former assistant killed

  • Activision CEO Bobby Kotick threatened to have his former assistant killed, according to a WSJ report.
  • “Mr. Kotick quickly apologized 16 years ago,” an Activision representative said.
  • Kotick reportedly knew for years about allegations of sexual harassment and rape in his company.

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In 2006, Activision’s CEO Bobby Kotick reportedly left his assistant a voicemail in which he threatened to have her killed.

The dispute, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, is said to have been resolved out of court.

A spokesman for Activision said in an email to Insider that “Mr. Kotick quickly apologized 16 years ago.” The representative referred to Kotick’s threat as “obviously hyperbolic and inappropriate” and said that “he deeply regrets the exaggeration and tone” in the message.

It was just one detail of the Wall Street Journal’s major study of Kotick’s leadership at one of the largest video game publishers in the world, the multi-billion dollar storm behind “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft” and “Overwatch,” among many others.

Kotick reportedly knew for years about a series of allegations of sexual harassment and rape in his company.

The Wall Street Journal report describes several specific examples of harassment and rape at Activision: Kotick was not only aware of these allegations, but in at least one case, he allegedly intervened to detain a male employee who was accused of sexual harassment despite the company’s human resources department recommends that he be fired.

In one case, a female employee of Activision’s subsidiary Sledgehammer Games (which works on the “Call of Duty” franchise) said she was raped twice by her male supervisor, in 2016 and in 2017. She reported this to the company’s HR department, as she said she did not take anything until she got a lawyer. Activision decided the case out of court, and Kotick did not tell the company’s board, according to the Journal.

In another case, Dan Bunting, head of Activision-owned studio Treyarch, was accused of harassing a female employee, and Activision’s HR department recommended that he be released. Instead, Kotick stepped in, and Bunting was given “advice and permission to remain in the company,” according to the report.

In a statement on Tuesday, Activision said it was “disappointed” in the report, “which represents a misleading view of Activision Blizzard and our CEO.”

Meanwhile, a group of Activision employees are staging a walkout in response to the report, demanding that Kotick resign from its role as CEO. “We will not be silenced until Bobby Kotick has been replaced as CEO,” said the group in a message on Twitter.

Do you have a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-working device to reach out. PR pitches via email only, please.

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