Activision CEO Daniel Alegre stepping down to pursue newjob
Activision CEO Daniel Alegre will step down from his role at the video game giant to pursue new opportunities, according to a letter signed by Blizzard Entertainment president J. Allen Brack and chief operating officer J. Allen Brack to employees on Monday.
Effective immediately, Brack will be replaced by Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, who have been appointed as co-leaders of Blizzard. Oneal and Ybarra share responsibility for development and operational accountability for the company, according to the letter.
Oneal previously served as the Blizzard's executive vice president of development, providing support to the company's Diablo and Overwatch 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 a senior executive in Microsoft's Xbox division.
Both are leaders of great character and integrity and are deeply committed to ensuring our workplace is the most welcoming environment for creative excellence 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 confident Jen and Mike will lead Blizzard with care, compassion and dedication to excellence.
In a statement, Brack expressed confidence that Oneal and Ybarra will provide the leadership Blizzard needs to accelerate its full potential and has the greatest potential for change.
I anticipate they will do so with passion and passion and that they can be trusted to guide with the highest levels of integrity and commitment to our culture that make Blizzard special, he added.
Brack's departure is part of an executive shake-up 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 male employees less than their female counterparts, providing them with fewer opportunities to advance, and ignore complaints from female employees regarding discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the workplace.
Activision Blizzard's legal counsel initially called the allegations in a lengthy statement distorted, and in many cases false, and outlined significant changes it made to create an inclusive workplace. According to a subsequent email received by Activision Blizzard's Chief Compliance Officer Frances Townsend, who called the lawsuit truly impretty and irresponsible and added it included factually incorrect, old, and out of context stories.
The response prompted a petition signed by over 2,000 current and former Activision employees, blasting the company's statements as abhorrent and insulting, as well as an employee walkout calling for an end to mandatory arbitration clauses in all current and future employee contracts, more inclusive recruitment, 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.
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick later issued a statement calling the company response tone deaf, adding there is no place at our company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind. Kotick also encouraged anyone who has an experience you believe violated our policies or 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 by ensuring that our company has the most welcoming, comfortable, and safe culture possible, Kotick's letter concluded. You have my unwavering commitment that we will improve our company together, and we will be the most inclusive entertainment company in the world.
Shares of the company tumbled during the trading session on Tuesday following the announcement. Activision Blizzard is going to release its fiscal 2021 second quarter earnings after the bell.