Activision CEO Allen Brack to step down from the company
Activision CEO Daniel Alegre will step down from his role at Blizzard Entertainment to pursue new opportunities, according to a letter to employees from J. Allen Brack and Chief Operating Officer Daniel Alegre on Monday.
Brack will be replaced immediately by Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, who were appointed as co-leaders of Blizzard. Oneal and Ybarra share responsibility for development and operational accountability for the company, according to the letter.
Oneal has previously served as Blizzard's executive vice president of development, providing support to the company's Diablo and Battle.net franchises, while Ybarra previously served as Blizzard's executive vice president and general manager of platform and technology, overseeing the company's development services organizations and Battle.net. Before Blizzard, Oneal was the head of gaming studio Vicarious Visions and Ybarra was senior executive at Microsoft's Xbox division.
Both are leaders of great character and integrity and are deeply committed to ensuring our workplace is the most creative, welcoming environment for creativity and to upholding our highest game development standards, Alegre said. With their many years of industry experience and deep commitment to integrity and inclusivity, I am certain Jen and Mike will lead Blizzard with care, compassion and a dedication to excellence.
In a statement, Brack expressed his confidence that Oneal and Ybarra will provide the leadership Blizzard needs to realize its full potential and will accelerate the pace of change.
I anticipate they will do so with passion and enthusiasm that they can be trusted to lead with the highest levels of integrity and commitment to the components of our culture that make Blizzard so special, he added.
Brack's departure is part of an executive shakeup as the company faces a wave of backlash due to its response to a discrimination lawsuit from California's department of fair employment and housing. The DFEH suit accuses the video game giant of paying its female employees less than their male counterparts, providing them with fewer opportunities to advance and ignoring complaints from female employees regarding harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.
Activision Blizzard's legal counsel first called the allegations in a lengthy statement as inaccurate, and in many cases more significant changes its made to create an inclusive workplace. According to a subsequent email sent out by Activision Blizzard's Chief Compliance Officer Frances Townsend, who called the lawsuit truly meritless and irresponsible and said it included factually incorrect, old, and out of context stories.
The response prompted a petition signed by over 2,000 former and current Activision Blizzard employees, blasting the company's statements as abhorrent and insulting, as well as an employee walkout demanding an end to mandatory arbitration clauses in all current and future employee contracts, more inclusive recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and promotion policies, publication of relative compensation, promotion rates, and salary ranges for all employees and a third party audit of the company's reporting structure, HR department, and executive staff
Bobby Kotick subsequently issued a statement calling the company response tone deaf, saying that there is no place in our company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind. Kotick also encouraged anyone with an experience you believe violates our policies or in any way made you uncomfortable in the workplace to report the issue and said Activision Blizzard would take multiple steps to ensure a safe and inclusive workplace, including hiring an outside law firm to review the company's policies.
Your well-being remains my priority and I will spare no company resource ensuring that our company has the most welcoming, comfortable, and safe culture possible, Kotick concluded. I have my unwavering commitment that we will improve our company together and will be the most inclusive, inspiring, inspiring entertainment company in the world.
Shares of the company have tumbled during trading on Tuesday following the announcement. Activision Blizzard is set to release its fiscal 2021 second quarter earnings after the bell.