Robert Kotick

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Robert Kotick
Bobby Kotick photo.jpg
Robert Kotick
Born 1963 (age 50–51)
Alma mater University of Michigan
Occupation

CEO of Activision Blizzard

Member of Board of Directors of Coca-Cola

Robert A. Kotick (born 1963)[1] also known as Bobby Kotick, is an American businessman who serves as CEO, President, and a Director of Activision Blizzard. On February 16, 2012, he was elected an outside director of The Coca-Cola Company.[2]

Early career

Kotick began his career in 1983 while he was still in college at the University of Michigan,[3][4] when he began creating software for the Apple II with financial backing from Steve Wynn.[5] Kotick credits Steve Jobs for advising him to drop out of college to pursue his entrepreneurial interests in the software business.[6]

In 1987, he tried to acquire Commodore International. He planned to remove the keyboard and disk drive from the Amiga 500 and turn it into the first 16 bit video game system. He was unsuccessful in persuading Commodore's then-Chairman Irving Gould to sell control of the company.[3][4] He subsequently purchased a controlling stake in Leisure Concepts, Nintendo's licensing agent,[4] which was renamed 4Kids Entertainment.[1]

Kotick and his partner Brian Kelly bought a 25% stake in Activision in December 1990,[3][4] and became CEO in February 1991.[1] Kotick also served as a founder of International Consumer Technologies and was President from 1986 to January 1995. In 1995, International Consumer Technologies became a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision.[7]

Kotick was also a Yahoo! board member from March 2003 to August 2008,[1][8][9] and is currently a board member for the Center for Early Education, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Tony Hawk Foundation.[1]

Work with Activision Blizzard

At Activision, Kotick set out to build "an institutional quality, well managed company with a focus on the independent developer."[4] In a 14 June 2010 interview with gaming blog Kotaku, Kotick stated, "…[P]art of the whole philosophy of Activision was whether you're owned outright or not, if you're a studio you have control of your destiny, you could make decisions about who to hire, flexibility on what products to make, how to make them, schedules appropriate to make them, budgets."[5]

Kotick engineered the Activision Blizzard merge, and stockholders of Activision Blizzard approved Kotick as CEO of the combined company on 9 July 2008.[10] In 2009, as reported by Forbes magazine, Robert Kotick received approximately $3.2 million USD in salary, benefits, options and incentives for his work with Activision Blizzard, of which $953,654 was his actual salary.[1] By 2013, Kotick was the second highest compensated CEO in the United States, earning $64.9 million USD, mostly in stock.[11]

Kotick has used Activision Blizzard's industry position to push partners for changes that he maintains would benefit the gaming community. In July 2009, Kotick threatened to stop making games for the PlayStation 3 platform if Sony did not cut the price of the console.[12] Kotick also urged the British government to reward Activision for continuing to invest in the country's pool of game developers by providing Activision with the same kinds of tax incentives provided by Canada, Singapore and eastern bloc countries.[13] Kotick has launched an Independent Games Competition with $500,000 in total available prize money for small developers working with new platforms and has stated that "keeping passion in game development is something that's important to him."[3][14]

In October 2009, under Kotick’s direction, Activision Blizzard launched Call of Duty Endowment, a non-profit public benefit corporation, which helps soldiers transition to civilian careers after their military service, with a commitment to create thousands of jobs for veterans including those returning from the Middle East. Kotick recruited an advisory board composed of veterans representing the various service branches.[15]

Controversy

Kotick has at times been a controversial figure in the gaming community.[5] In part this can be attributed to advocating a business strategy focused on only developing intellectual property which can be, in his words, "exploited" over a long period, to the exclusion of new titles which cannot guarantee sequels.[16] In responding to why Activision Blizzard chose not to publish certain games following the Activision/Blizzard merger, he stated that focusing on franchises that "have the potential to be exploited every year on every platform with clear sequel potential and have the potential to become $100 million franchises" has "worked very well for Activision Blizzard". Kotick described this business strategy as "narrow and deep" or "annualizable" and cited it as key to attracting development talent who may not be drawn to "speculative franchises".[17]

Kotick also created a stir when commenting on Activision Blizzard's peripheral-driven franchises. During Activision Blizzard's Q2 2009 financial results conference, Kotick was challenged over his "comfort level" around high prices attached to "new games that have some expensive controllers" and said, "if it was left to me, I would raise the prices even further."[18] While Spong took the comment at face value,[19] Gamesindustry.biz thought the comment was a joke, but could be seen as "insensitive at a time when consumers are likely to be feeling the economic pinch".[20]

A frequent complaint from the gaming press is the gap between Kotick and Activision's chief consumers. Ars Technica editor Ben Kuchera wrote, "Kotick doesn't play his games, and it shows."[16] Video game developer Tim Schafer called Kotick a "total prick" in reference to his negative attitude towards games.[21] Gaming blog Kotaku reported, however, that Kotick confessed to a passion for video games that "has never really gone away," and "rattle[d] off an impressive list of consoles he's owned in the past and games he loved."[5]

Personal life

A native of Long Island, New York, Kotick resides in California with his family.[22] He divorced his wife in late 2012.[23] He had a cameo role in the 2011 film Moneyball.[24]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Robert A. Kotick Profile". Forbes.com (Forbes). Retrieved June 21, 2010. 
  2. ^ The Board of Directors of The Coca-Cola Company Elects Robert A. Kotick as Director
  3. ^ a b c d Simon Carless. "DICE 2010: Kotick Talks Passion For Industry". Gamasutra.com. Retrieved February 18, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Gallagher, Dan. "Kotick changes the game at Actvision Blizzard". Marketwatch.com. 
  5. ^ a b c d Brian Crecente. "A Delightful Chat With the Most Hated Man in Video Games". Kotaku.com. 
  6. ^ Yukari Iwatani Kane (June 14, 2010). "Activision CEO: Steve Jobs Convinced Me to Quit College". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 14, 2010. 
  7. ^ "CEO BIO: Robert A. Kotick". Business Week.com. Business Week. Retrieved June 21, 2010. 
  8. ^ "It's a done deal: Icahn on Yahoo board". cnet.com. CNET. August 6, 2008. Retrieved September 27, 2008. 
  9. ^ "Are You the Next Yahoo! CEO?". fool.com. The Motley Fool. June 17, 2008. Retrieved September 27, 2008. 
  10. ^ "Investors approve Activision Blizzard merger". videogamemedia.com. Video Game Media. Retrieved July 9, 2008. 
  11. ^ "Executive Pay by the Numbers". The New York Times. June 29, 2013. Retrieved June 30, 2013. 
  12. ^ Dan Sabbagh. "Sony should beware — Activision chief is not simply playing games". London: The Times. Retrieved July 19, 2009. 
  13. ^ Maija Palmer and Tim Bradshaw. "Computer games industry hits at tax rethink". Financial Times. Retrieved June 30, 2010. 
  14. ^ Eric Caoili. "Activision Announces Independent Games Competition". Gamasutra.com. 
  15. ^ "Call of Duty Endowment Home Page". 
  16. ^ a b "Activision: if we can't run a game into the ground, we don't want it". arstechnica.com. Condé Nast Publications. November 6, 2008. Retrieved November 7, 2008. 
  17. ^ "Activision Blizzard SF2Q09 (Qtr End 9/30/08) Earnings Call Transcript". seekingalpha.com. Seeking Alpha. November 5, 2008. Retrieved October 20, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Activision Blizzard Q2 2009 Earnings Call Transcript". seekingalpha.com. seekingalpha.com. August 5, 2009. p. 8. Retrieved October 11, 2009. 
  19. ^ "Activision's Kotick: I'd Raise Game Prices Even More — Bobby Wants MORE". news.spong.com. August 6, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2009. 
  20. ^ Phil Elliott (August 7, 2009). "Kotick Jokes About 'Even Higher' Prices". gamesindustry.biz. Eurogamer Network Ltd. Retrieved November 7, 2009. 
  21. ^ Yin, Wesley (July 14, 2010). "Double Fine's Tim Schafer Interview • Page 1 • Interviews •". Eurogamer.net. Retrieved October 19, 2013. 
  22. ^ Kevin Maney. "Game Boy". Portfolio.com. 
  23. ^ Amy Chozick (December 15, 2012). Kotick "At Activision, a Hero and Villain, Zapped Into One". The New York Times. 
  24. ^ Luke Plunkett. "What the Fuck is Bobby Kotick Doing in This Brad Pitt Movie?". Kotaku. Retrieved June 16, 2011.