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Robert Kotick

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Robert A. Kotick
Bobby Kotick in NYC photographed by Jordan Matter.jpg
Born 1963 (age 52–53)
Other names Bobby Kotick
Alma mater University of Michigan
Occupation CEO of Activision Blizzard, member of Board of Directors of The Coca-Cola Company
Years active 1983–present
Known for Founding the new Activision (1990s), Activision/Blizzard Entertainment merger into Activision Blizzard (2007), founding Call of Duty Endowment (2009)

Robert "Bobby" Kotick (born 1963)[1] is an American businessman who currently serves as president and CEO of Activision Blizzard, a member of the S&P 500.[2] Known for publishing popular franchises such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, StarCraft, Skylanders and Guitar Hero, Activision Blizzard had net revenues of $4.41 billion in 2014, and at that time had a market value of $19.4 billion.[3] Kotick controls approximately 175 million shares of Activision Blizzard[4] worth approximately $4.6 billion as of August 24, 2015.[3] After Larry Ellison stepped down as CEO of Oracle, Kotick became the longest-serving CEO of any public technology company, having been in his role for 25 years.[5]

After starting his business career as co-founder of a software development company in the 1980s[6] and subsequently working with 4Kids Entertainment,[1] in 1990[7] Kotick purchased 9% of the stock in the video game company Activision.[8] He became CEO in 1991.[1] A member of the board of directors of The Coca-Cola Company since 2012,[9] Kotick also serves on the boards of The Center for Early Education, the Harvard Westlake School,[10] the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and is the founder and co-chairman of the Call of Duty Endowment, a non-profit that helps unemployed veterans start careers after they complete military service.[10] In 2015, Adweek named Kotick No. 27 on its annual Top 100 Leaders in Media list.[11]

Early life and education

Robert "Bobby" Kotick was born in 1963[1] in the United States and he grew up in New York City and Long Island. After graduation, he attended the University of Michigan to study art history and literature.[8]


Early ventures (1980s)

Kotick began his career as a software developer in 1983 while he was at the University of Michigan.[7][12] Kotick was a passionate video game player, spending hours playing games like Sierra's Mystery House and Defender,[12] and he soon began developing software for the Apple II.[8][13] Kotick credits Steve Jobs for advising him to drop out of college to pursue his entrepreneurial interests in the software business.[14] In 1983[7][12] casino mogul Steve Wynn, his longtime mentor, became an investor. Wynn contributed $300,000 in startup capital for the new venture.[8][13] In 1985[6][8] Kotick became a software developer on the Electronic Arts platform, and worked on Deluxe Write mainly for the Amiga.[13] In 1987 Kotick tried to acquire Commodore International, with plans to remove the keyboard and disk drive from the Amiga 500 and turn it into the first 16 bit video game system. When Kotick was unsuccessful in persuading Commodore's then-Chairman Irving Gould to sell control of the company,[7][12] he purchased a controlling stake in Leisure Concepts, Nintendo's licensing agent,[12] which was renamed 4Kids Entertainment.[1] At 4Kids, Kotick served as CEO and Chairman until December 1990.[6]

Purchase of Activision (1990s)

Main article: Activision

In December 1990,[7][12] Kotick and his business partner Brian Kelly bought a 25% stake in the gaming company Activision (then called Mediagenic) for $400,000.[7] Kotick purchased 9% of the stock,[8] and became CEO in February 1991.[1] According to Kotick, he bought the stake partly out of his love for old Activision titles such as Kaboom! as well as Infocom games.[7] Despite the fact that Activision was $30 million in debt and insolvent, Kotick stated he saw an opportunity to remake classic Activision games.[8] After moving Activision to Los Angeles in 1992, Kotick raised $40 million for the company in a stock offering,[8] and set out to build what he described as "an institutional quality, well managed company with a focus on the independent developer."[12] In a June 14, 2010 interview with gaming blog Kotaku, Kotick stated "part 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."[13]

Kotick oversaw a number of acquisitions for Activision starting in the early 1990s.[6][8] From 1997 and 2003 he bought nine video game studios, and built several new ones.[8] Activision's Neversoft studio released Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater in 1999, which became a major hit as a games franchise.[8] Kotick helped fund Infinity Ward, which released Activision's blockbuster franchise Call of Duty in 2003.[8] Kotick also oversaw Activision's $90 million acquisition of RedOctane in 2006, which brought the Guitar Hero franchise to Activision.[12]

Activision Blizzard merger and growth (2008–2012)

Main article: Activision Blizzard

Kotick initiated the merger of Activision and Blizzard Entertainment in 2008, and became CEO of the combined company – Activision Blizzard, Inc. – on July 9 of that year.[15] That year, Kotick was named a finalist for the 2008 MarketWatch CEO of the Year award,[12] and the following year Activision Blizzard had an overall market value of $12.3 billion.[8] Since the company's inception, Kotick has used Activision Blizzard's industry position to push for changes that he has maintained would benefit the gaming community as a whole.[16] In October 2009, Kotick founded the Call of Duty Endowment, a non-profit with the mission of placing veterans into high-quality careers.[10] He put pressure on Sony to lower the price of the PlayStation 3 console in 2009.[16] In the summer of 2010, Kotick urged the British government to encourage game companies to invest in the U.K.’s pool of game developers by giving these companies the same kinds of tax incentives provided by Canada, Singapore and eastern bloc countries.[17] In 2010 Kotick launched an Independent Games Competition with $500,000 in total available prize money for small developers working with new platforms,[18] and he has stated that "keeping passion in game development" is something that's important to him.[7]

By 2010, Activision Blizzard was the largest video games publisher in the world.[17] The 2011 release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 grossed $400 million in the US and UK alone in its first 24 hours, making it the biggest entertainment launch of all time.[19] 2011 was the third year in a row that the Call Of Duty series broke the biggest launch record; 2010's Call of Duty: Black Ops grossed $360 million on day one; and in 2009 Modern Warfare 2 brought in $310 million.[20] In 2011, Activision Blizzard debuted its Skylanders franchise.[21] With this launch, the press has credited Kotick's team with inventing a new "toys-to-life" category.[21][22][23] The first release Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure was nominated for two Toy Industry Association awards in 2011: "Game of the Year" and "Innovative Toy of the Year".[24] Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure and its sequels were released for major consoles and PC, and many were released on mobile devices as well.[21]

Recent years at Activision Blizzard (2013–present)

In July 2013, Activision Blizzard announced that it would purchase company shares from parent company Vivendi.[25][26] In December 2013 the Los Angeles Times reported that Kotick had "[orchestrated] a complex $8.2 billion deal that returned control of the company over to its public shareholders."[27] In 2013 Kotick was named the tenth most influential CEO of the NASDAQ 100.[2] At the time, Kotick was the second highest compensated CEO in the United States, earning $64.9 million USD, mostly in stock.[28] That same year, the company released Call of Duty: Ghosts, which was written by screenwriter Stephen Gaghan.[27] When Call of Duty: Ghosts was released, Kotick stated "the talent of Hollywood … for the first time is engaged and interested in our medium in a way where they feel like they actually can help move the art form forward.”[27] On its first release day the game sold $1 billion into retail.[29] Under Kotick, the company released a new title, Destiny, on September 9, 2014. The game made over $500 million in retail sales on the first day of release, setting a record for the biggest first day launch of a new gaming franchise.[29] After Larry Ellison stepped down as CEO of Oracle in 2014, Kotick became the longest-serving CEO of any public technology company, having been in his role for 25 years.[5]

On September 15, 2015, Bungie and Activision Publishing released Destiny: The Taken King, the follow up to the Destiny saga. Two days later Sony announced that the game broke the record for the most downloaded day-one game in PlayStation history, in terms of both total players and peak online concurrency.[30] The company released the next iteration of the Skylanders franchise in September 2015, which added vehicles to the “toys to life” category.[31] According to Activision Blizzard’s 2014 annual report, a $100 investment in Activision Blizzard in the mid-1990s would have returned over $4,400 to date, “almost nine times more than the $520 the S&P 500 would have returned in that same period of time and almost five times more than Berkshire Hathaway.”[32] Activision Blizzard joined the S&P 500 on August 28, 2015, with Kotick stating "we believe we are well-positioned for long-term growth."[33] On October 21, 2015, Activision Blizzard launched a new eSports division to focus on professional gaming. Kotick explained that "celebrating our players and their unique skill, dedication and commitment is the essence of our eSports initiatives."[34]


Kotick had an uncredited cameo role in the 2011 film Moneyball,[35] directed by his close friend Bennett Miller,[36] where he played the owner of the Oakland Athletics baseball team Stephen Schott.[27] Reuters reported that he agreed to appear in the film if Miller would direct a short film to support Kotick's Call of Duty Endowment non-profit.[36]

Blog coverage

Frequently featured in business and mainstream media, Kotick has also attracted attention from video game industry press.[13] He has advocated a business strategy focused on developing intellectual property[37] that could be leveraged over a long period of time, with less frequent publication of new titles that cannot guarantee sequels.[38] 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."[37]

After a 2008 Ars Technica story opined that Kotick didn't seem like the type to play his own games,[39] gaming blog Kotaku reported that Kotick discussed 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."[13] Kotick has described a reluctance to get overly involved in the creative process behind his company's releases, citing it as a measure to protect the games' integrity.[13] He also stated that "keeping passion in game development" is important to him.[7]

A number of press outlets covered his response[40][41][42] to a question posed on the Q2 2009 earnings call regarding his "comfort level" around prices attached to "new games that have some expensive controllers."[43] After some gaming bloggers criticized Kotick's defense of the pricing,[40][41][42] Kotick later assured interviewers that profit wasn't his only concern, as "I want to make sure that every one of the games is a lasting franchise that is the very best game it could be."[13]

Boards and non-profits

Kotick is currently a board member for The Center for Early Education,[6] the Harvard Westlake School,[10] and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA),[6] where as a vice chairman[44] he has donated several works of art and funded various programs, including those focused on arts education.[45] On February 16, 2012, he was elected an outside director of the Coca-Cola Company, and he was also appointed to Coca-Cola's Management Development Committee.[9] Previously,[6] Kotick served on the board of 4Kids Entertainment starting in 1990,[1][6] and as a Yahoo! board member from March 2003[1][46] to August 2008.[47]

Kotick is the founder and co-chairman of the Call of Duty Endowment,[10] a non-profit public benefit corporation that places veterans into high-quality careers.[10][48] Co-chairman General James Jones is a former U.S. National Security Advisor.[49] Upon its founding in 2009, the organization announced a commitment to create thousands of career opportunities for veterans, including those returning from the Middle East.[10] Annual awards given by the endowment include the “Seal of Distinction,” a $30,000 initial grant given to selected veteran’s service organizations.[50] In November 2014, the endowment launched the “Race to 1,000 Jobs” campaign to encourage gamers to donate money to and get involved in organizations that provide veterans with services.[51] As of 2015, the Call of Duty Endowment had provided around $12 million in grants to veterans’ organizations in the United States, which had helped place 14,700 veterans in jobs.[52]

Personal life

Kotick is native of Long Island, New York.[53] He is divorced[54] and resides in California with his family.[53]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Nominee Category Result
2008 MarketWatch Awards Robert Kotick CEO of the Year[12] Finalist
Vanity Fair Rankings 2008 New Establishment List[55] No. 72
2009 2009 New Establishment List[56] No. 94
2015 Adweek Top 100 Leaders in Media [11] No. 27

Further reading

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Robert A. Kotick Profile". (Forbes). Archived from the original on May 25, 2010. Retrieved June 21, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Majority of NASDAQ 100 CEO's Shun Social Media". MarketWatch. Dec 3, 2013. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  3. ^ a b "Q2 2015 ATVI Earnings - press release" (PDF). Activision. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  4. ^ "Earnings - Press Release" (PDF). Activision. 2015. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  5. ^ a b Chan, Marcus (February 6, 2014). "Top 10 Longest-Serving Tech CEOs". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "CEO BIO: Robert A. Kotick". Business Business Week. Retrieved June 21, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Simon Carless. "DICE 2010: Kotick Talks Passion For Industry". Retrieved February 18, 2010.  (June 2, 2010, author Eric Caoili)
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Beller, Peter C. (January 15, 2009). "Activision's Unlikely Hero". Forbes. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  9. ^ a b "The Board of Directors of The Coca-Cola Company Elects Robert A. Kotick as Director". Coca Cola Company. Feb 16, 2012. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g "Call of Duty Endowment Home Page". 
  11. ^ a b North, Dale (June 1, 2015). "The 100 Most Influential Leaders in Marketing, Media and Tech". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Gallagher, Dan (Dec 4, 2008). "Kotick changes the game at Actvision Blizzard". Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h Crecente, Brian (June 14, 2010). "A Delightful Chat With the Most Hated Man in Video Games". Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  14. ^ Yukari Iwatani Kane (June 14, 2010). "Activision CEO: Steve Jobs Convinced Me to Quit College". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 14, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Investors approve Activision Blizzard merger". Video Game Media. Retrieved July 9, 2008. 
  16. ^ a b Dan Sabbagh. "Sony should beware — Activision chief is not simply playing games". London: The Times. Retrieved July 19, 2009. 
  17. ^ a b Tim Bradshaw, Maija Palmer (June 30, 2010). "Computer games industry hits at tax rethink". Financial Times. Retrieved June 30, 2010. 
  18. ^ Eric Caoili. "Activision Announces Independent Games Competition". 
  19. ^ Crecente, Brian (2011-11-11). "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Shatters All Sales Records". Kotaku. Retrieved 2011-11-11. 
  20. ^ "MW3 Breaks Black Ops Launch Record". 2011-11-11. Retrieved 2011-11-11. 
  21. ^ a b c M. Ewalt, David (July 29, 2011). "Bobby Kotick On Hatching Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure". Forbes. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  22. ^ "Skylanders story". April 16, 2014. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  23. ^ Takahashi, Dean (June 5, 2012). "With Skylanders Giants, Activision could dominate toys and video games (video and gallery)". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  24. ^ Appell, Adrienne. "Toy Industry Unveils Nominees for 2012 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards; Announces Inductees into Toy Industry Hall of Fame". Toy Industry Association. 
  25. ^ Griffiths, Daniel Nye (September 18, 2013). "Activision Blizzard Buyout On Hold After Court Injunction: ATVI Remains 'Committed'". Forbes. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  26. ^ Feeley, Jef (December 4, 2013). "Activision CEO Kotick Threatened to Quit Over Buyout Role". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  27. ^ a b c d Chmielewski, Dawn C. (December 10, 2013). "Challenge for Activision CEO: capitalizing on next-gen game consoles". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  28. ^ "Executive Pay by the Numbers". The New York Times. June 29, 2013. Retrieved June 30, 2013. 
  29. ^ a b Kain, Erik (September 10, 2014). "'Destiny' Crosses $500 Million On Day One, Biggest New Video Game Launch Ever". Forbes. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  30. ^ Parfitt, Ben (September 18, 2015). "Destiny: The Taken King claims PSN's records". MCV - UK. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  31. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (June 3, 2015). "Skylanders SuperChargers adds vehicles to the list". Eurogamer. Retrieved June 3, 2015. 
  32. ^ "Activision Blizzard’s 2014 annual report" (PDF). 2014. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  33. ^ Takahashi, Dean (August 27, 2015). "Call of Duty publisher Activision Blizzard joins the S&P 500". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  34. ^ Morris, Chris (October 22, 2015). "Why Activision-Blizzard just launched a new eSports division". Fortune. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  35. ^ Luke Plunkett. "What the Fuck is Bobby Kotick Doing in This Brad Pitt Movie?". Kotaku. Retrieved June 16, 2011. 
  36. ^ a b Baker, Liana (August 5, 2011). "How Bobby Kotick ended up alongside Brad Pitt in "Moneyball"". Reuters. 
  37. ^ a b "Activision Blizzard SF2Q09 (Qtr End 9/30/08) Earnings Call Transcript". Seeking Alpha. November 5, 2008. Retrieved October 20, 2009. 
  38. ^ "Activision: if we can't run a game into the ground, we don't want it". Condé Nast Publications. November 6, 2008. Retrieved November 7, 2008. 
  39. ^ Kuchera, Ben (January 21, 2009). "Activision’s Bobby Kotick brings cash, but not heart". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  40. ^ a b "Activision's Kotick: I'd Raise Game Prices Even More — Bobby Wants MORE". August 6, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2009. 
  41. ^ a b Phil Elliott (August 7, 2009). "Kotick Jokes About 'Even Higher' Prices". Eurogamer Network Ltd. Retrieved November 7, 2009. 
  42. ^ a b Yin, Wesley (July 14, 2010). "Double Fine's Tim Schafer Interview • Page 1 • Interviews •". Retrieved October 19, 2013. 
  43. ^ "Activision Blizzard Q2 2009 Earnings Call Transcript". August 5, 2009. p. 8. Retrieved October 11, 2009. 
  44. ^ "Overivew". LACMA. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  45. ^ "LACMA’s ’50 for 50′ gifts to go on public view Sunday". Rodeo Realty. April 24, 2015. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  46. ^ "Are You the Next Yahoo! CEO?". The Motley Fool. June 17, 2008. Retrieved September 27, 2008. 
  47. ^ "It's a done deal: Icahn on Yahoo board". CNET. August 6, 2008. Retrieved September 27, 2008. 
  48. ^ "Our Mission". Call of Duty Endowment. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  49. ^ James Jones Biography at CallofDutyEndowment
  50. ^ "Activision’s Call of Duty™ Endowment Announces Seven Recipients of 2014 “Seal of Distinction” Awards". Activision (BusinessWire). November 6, 2014. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  51. ^ "Call of Duty® Gamers Join "Race to 1,000 Jobs" Campaign (#1000Vets) to Place 1,000 Military Veterans in High-Quality Careers by Raising $1 Million". Activision (BusinessWire). October 29, 2014. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  52. ^ "Overview". Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  53. ^ a b Kevin Maney. "Game Boy". 
  54. ^ Chozick, Amy (December 15, 2012). "At Activision, a Hero and Villain, Zapped Into One". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  55. ^ Lacter, Mark (September 3, 2008). "Activision CEO gets ranked". LA Observed. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  56. ^ "Bobby Kotick: The New Establishment 2009". Vanity Fair. October 2009. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 

External links