Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard
Activision Blizzard has acquired a sordid reputation, one that resulted in their sale, and it seems that the rampant corruption is catching.
For some time now, Scifi.Radio has been covering the scandals, controversies, and consequences surrounding the video game publishing giant behind such prolific franchises such as World Of Warcraft and Overwatch. Unable to get out of their own way – and by that, I mean refusing to force the resignation of grossly culpable Bobby Kotick, Activision Blizzard dealt the hand for their own demise, resulting in the purchase of the company by Microsoft.
As is standard procedure, mergers such as this are subject to regulatory review by the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) to prevent the formation of monopolies and block sales that could otherwise harm the potential for fair competition in a marketplace, as well as and other illegal activity.
Enter Barry Diller, David Geffen, and Alexander von Furstenberg.
Diller, who served as a member of the board of directors at Coca Cola alongside the aforementioned Kotick, formed a suspicious trio with Geffen and von Furstenberg, investing upwards of $108 million in Activision Blizzard mere days before the purchase by Microsoft was announced. The investment has since risen to $168 million, and could top out at $200 million by the time the sale closes at the end of this year.
This investment was no accidental discovery: the purchase was made via JP Morgan Chase, who reported the transaction to authorities once the merger was announced. The US Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) were subsequently tasked to begin an investigation.
The obvious implication is that of insider trading. This is defined as the buying and selling of stocks based on the possession of confidential or non-public information in order to maximize profit. For those in our international audience, it bears pointing out that this practice is highly illegal in the United States.
Diller and Kotick’s relationship, obviously, casts suspicion on Diller’s participation. Diller has gone on record describing Kotick as a “long term friend.” Geffen is also a friend, and von Furstenberg is Diller’s stepson. We’re all well aware, thanks to the abuses of power that led to the lawsuit which exposed Activision Blizzard’s toxic workplace culture, that Kotick is capable of pleading ignorance when it comes to having information that could harm him. Is he more capable of sharing information when it could benefit him? One could speculate that it’s very likely—with, of course, some promise of compensation in exchange.
However, it remains that all parties are innocent until proven guilty. Diller has told the Wall Street Journal that, “None of us had any knowledge from any person or any source or any anything about a potential acquisition of Activision by Microsoft.” In addition, there is not yet any evidence that insider trading took place, so all speculation is just that: speculation. What’s noteworthy here, however, is that yet again scandal is pursuing Activision Blizzard at every turn.
The fact that Kotick is still CEO of the company is just rancid icing on a mud pie posing as a cake, and the future of Microsoft’s promises of a new day dawning within Activision Blizzard are dimming like a candle in a snowstorm.
Liz Carlie (she/her/he/him) is a regular book, TV, and film reviewer for SCIFI.radio and has previously been a guest on ‘The Event Horizon’. In addition to being an active member of the traditional fandom community, she’s also an active participant in online fan culture, pro wrestling journalism, and spreading the gospel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She resides in Southern California with her aspiring superhero dog, Junior, enjoying life one hyperfixation at a time.