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Bobby Kotick

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Bobby Kotick
Bobby Kotick photo.jpg
Robert Kotick
Born (1963-03-01) March 1, 1963 (age 56)
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
OccupationBusinessman
TitleCEO of Activision Blizzard
Board member ofThe Coca-Cola Company

Robert A. Kotick (born 1963)[1] is an American businessman who serves as CEO of Activision Blizzard.[2] He was the head of several technology companies early in his career. He purchased a stake in Activision in 1990,[3][4] and became CEO the next year.[1] Kotick engineered the Activision Blizzard merger, and he became CEO of the combined company in 2008.

He is on a couple of company boards. From 2003 until 2008, he was a director at Yahoo!.[2] On February 16, 2012, he was elected an outside director of The Coca-Cola Company.[2]

Early life

Born in 1963[2] in the United States, Robert "Bobby" Kotick grew up in New York.[5] He attended the University of Michigan in the 1980s.[3] In 1983 Kotick was advised by Steve Jobs to discontinue his studies in Art history and to run his software company full-time. He took the advice and left the University of Michigan.[6]

Career

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.[7] 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.[8]

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 June 14, 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."[7]

Kotick engineered the Activision Blizzard merge, and stockholders of Activision Blizzard approved Kotick as CEO of the combined company on July 9, 2008.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11] 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.[12] 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][13]

2016-present

In October 2016, Kotick confirmed the creation of Activision Blizzard's Overwatch League.[14] In November 2016, Activision Blizzard inked a deal with Kotick where he might receive bonuses if certain financial benchmarks were met concerning M&A. Earlier that same year, Activision had acquired companies such as King and Major League Gaming.[15] In late 2016, he was given a pay hike because the company was performing well,[16] with a contract that locks him in until 2021.[17] In June 2017 it was Fortune who said that Kotick had become “the longest-serving head of any publicly traded tech company.” Under him, the company was still developing films about its video games, and coming out with new video game sporting projects.[18]

Philanthropy, board service and recognition

Boards of directors

Kotick was a Yahoo! board member from March 2003 to August 2008,[1][19][20] 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]

Call of Duty Endowment

In October 2009, Kotick founded the Call of Duty Endowment (CODE), a non-profit benefit corporation, after speaking with former Veteran's Administration Secretary Jim Nicholson about how best to serve veterans.[21] The endowment helps soldiers transition to civilian careers after their military service. Kotick recruited an advisory board composed of veterans representing the various service branches. [22] In 2017, CODE announced that efforts would now encompass both US and U.K veterans, with a goal of placing 100,000 veterans in high-quality positions by 2024.[23] [24]

Honors and recognition

  • Ranked 50th in Vanity Fair's 2016 New Establishment List.[25]
  • Ranked 75th on Harvard Business Review's 2016 Best Performing CEOs in the World.[26] [27]
  • Ranked 24th in 2016 and 27th in 2015 on the Adweek list of Top 100 Leaders in Media.[28][29]

Business strategy controversy

Some statements Kotick has made about his business strategy have led to controversy.[7] He has focused on developing intellectual property which can be, in his words, "exploited" over a long period, to the exclusion of new titles which cannot guarantee sequels.[30] 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." [31] During Activision Blizzard's Q2 2009 financial results conference, Kotick was asked about his "comfort level" regarding pricing of some of his new games. After Activision Publishing CEO Mike Griffith answered that there was “strong retailer acceptance and support” for the pricing plan, Kotick joked that "if it was left to me, I would raise the prices even further." [32] Although Phil Elliot of Gamesindustry.biz understood the comment as a joke, he added that the comment could be seen as "insensitive at a time when consumers are likely to be feeling the economic pinch." [33]

Personal life

A native of Long Island, New York, Kotick resides in California with his family.[34] He and his wife divorced in late 2012.[35] He had a cameo role in the 2011 film Moneyball.[36] Kotick has donated to University of Michigan sports.[37]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Robert A. Kotick Profile". Forbes.com. Forbes. Archived from the original on May 25, 2010. Retrieved June 21, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d "Coca-Cola – Press Center – Press Releases – Board Elects Robert A. Kotick as Director".
  3. ^ a b c d e f Simon Carless. "DICE 2010: Kotick Talks Passion For Industry". Gamasutra.com. Retrieved February 18, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Gallagher, Dan. "Kotick changes the game at Actvision Blizzard". Marketwatch.com.
  5. ^ Beller, Peter C. (January 15, 2009). "Activision's Unlikely Hero".
  6. ^ a b Yukari Iwatani Kane (June 14, 2010). "Activision CEO: Steve Jobs Convinced Me to Quit College". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 14, 2010.
  7. ^ a b c Brian Crecente. "A Delightful Chat With the Most Hated Man in Video Games". Kotaku.com.
  8. ^ "CEO BIO: Robert A. Kotick". Business Week.com. Business Week. Archived from the original on July 30, 2010. Retrieved June 21, 2010.
  9. ^ "Investors approve Activision Blizzard merger". videogamemedia.com. Video Game Media. Retrieved July 9, 2008.
  10. ^ "Executive Pay by the Numbers". The New York Times. June 29, 2013. Retrieved June 30, 2013.
  11. ^ Dan Sabbagh. "Sony should beware — Activision chief is not simply playing games". London: The Times. Retrieved July 19, 2009.
  12. ^ Maija Palmer and Tim Bradshaw. "Computer games industry hits at tax rethink". Financial Times. Retrieved June 30, 2010.
  13. ^ Eric Caoili. "Activision Announces Independent Games Competition". Gamasutra.com.
  14. ^ "Activision Blizzard CEO confirms Overwatch League". ESPN.
  15. ^ "Don't Be Surprised When Activision Blizzard CEO Does a Big Deal". Bloomberg. November 29, 2016.
  16. ^ "Activision Blizzard's Kotick set for stock windfall". Financial Times. November 25, 2016.
  17. ^ "Don't Be Surprised When Activision Blizzard CEO Does a Big Deal". Bloomberg. November 29, 2016.
  18. ^ "Activision Blizzard Aims for the Big Leagues". Fortune. June 7, 2017.
  19. ^ "It's a done deal: Icahn on Yahoo board". cnet.com. CNET. August 6, 2008. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
  20. ^ "Are You the Next Yahoo! CEO?". fool.com. The Motley Fool. June 17, 2008. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
  21. ^ "A Gamer Puts Vets to Work:The Call of Duty Endowment separates potent nonprofits from also-rans" (PDF). www.philanthropyroundtable.org. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  22. ^ "Call of Duty Endowment Home Page". Archived from the original on December 20, 2009.
  23. ^ "The Call of Duty Endowment expands its veterans charity to the U.K." Gamecrate. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  24. ^ Fogel, Stefanie; Fogel, Stefanie (October 15, 2018). "Call of Duty Endowment Finds Jobs For 50,000 Veterans". Variety. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  25. ^ Primack, Dan; Coyne, Marley; Nguyen, Tina (2016). "The New Establishment". Vanityfair.com. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  26. ^ "Harvard Business Review ranks Nvidia boss Jen-Hsun Huang as a top 10 best-performing CEO". VentureBeat. October 11, 2016. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  27. ^ Staff, Harvard Business Review (November 1, 2016). "The Best-Performing CEOs in the World". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  28. ^ "Adweek's Power List 2016: The Top 100 Leaders in Marketing, Media and Tech". www.adweek.com. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  29. ^ "Activision's Bobby Kotick, EA's Andrew Wilson make Adweek's top 100 leaders in media". VentureBeat. June 1, 2015. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  30. ^ "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.
  31. ^ "Activision Blizzard SF2Q09 (Qtr End 9/30/08) Earnings Call Transcript". seekingalpha.com. Seeking Alpha. November 5, 2008. Retrieved October 20, 2009.
  32. ^ "Activision Blizzard Q2 2009 Earnings Call Transcript". seekingalpha.com. seekingalpha.com. August 5, 2009. p. 8. Retrieved October 11, 2009.
  33. ^ Phil Elliott (August 7, 2009). "Kotick Jokes About 'Even Higher' Prices". gamesindustry.biz. Eurogamer Network Ltd. Retrieved November 7, 2009.
  34. ^ Kevin Maney. "Game Boy". Portfolio.com.
  35. ^ Amy Chozick (December 15, 2012). "At Activision, a Hero and Villain, Zapped Into One". The New York Times.
  36. ^ Luke Plunkett. "What the Fuck is Bobby Kotick Doing in This Brad Pitt Movie?". Kotaku. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  37. ^ "Jim Harbaugh reveals donors behind UM's European vacations". Detroit News. Retrieved December 10, 2018.