|Born||1963 (age 56–57)|
|Alma mater||University of Michigan|
|Title||CEO of Activision Blizzard|
|Board member of||The Coca-Cola Company|
Robert A. Kotick (born 1963) is an American businessman, who is CEO of Activision Blizzard. He was the head of several technology companies early in his career. He purchased a stake in Activision in 1990, and became CEO the next year. Kotick engineered the Activision Blizzard merger, and he became CEO of the combined company in 2008. He is on several company boards. From 2003 until 2008, he was a director at Yahoo!. In February 2012, he became a non-executive director of The Coca-Cola Company.
Robert A. Kotick was born in 1963 in the US, growing up in New York. He attended the University of Michigan in the 1980s. 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.
Kotick began his career in 1983 while he was still in college at the University of Michigan, when he began creating software for the Apple II with financial backing from Steve Wynn. Kotick credits Steve Jobs for advising him to drop out of college to pursue his entrepreneurial interests in the software business.
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. He subsequently purchased a controlling stake in Leisure Concepts, Nintendo's licensing agent, which was renamed 4Kids Entertainment.
Kotick and his partner Brian Kelly bought a 25% stake in Activision in December 1990, and became CEO in February 1991. 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.
At Activision, Kotick set out to build "an institutional quality, well-managed company with a focus on the independent developer." 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."
Kotick engineered the Activision Blizzard merge, and stockholders of Activision Blizzard approved Kotick as CEO of the combined company on July 9, 2008. In 2009, as reported by Forbes magazine, Robert Kotick received approximately US$3.2 million in salary, benefits, options and incentives for his work with Activision Blizzard, of which $953,654 was his actual salary. By 2013, Kotick was the second-highest compensated CEO in the United States, earning $64.9 million, mostly in stock.
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. 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. 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."
In October 2016, Kotick confirmed the creation of Activision Blizzard's Overwatch League. 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. In late 2016, he was given a pay hike because the company was performing well, with a contract that locks him in until 2021. 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. In February 2019, non-profit organisation As You Sow ranked Kotick 45th in a list of the 100 most over-paid chief executive officers of the United States. According to the report, Kotick made $28.6 million in the year prior, equal to 306 times more than the average Activision Blizzard employee.
Philanthropy, board service and recognition
Boards of directors
Kotick was a Yahoo! board member from March 2003 to August 2008, and is currently a board member for the Center for Early Education, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Tony Hawk Foundation.
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. 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. 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.
Honors and recognition
- Ranked 50th in Vanity Fair's 2016 New Establishment List.
- Ranked 75th on Harvard Business Review's 2016 Best Performing CEOs in the World.
- Ranked 24th in 2016 and 27th in 2015 on the Adweek list of Top 100 Leaders in Media.
Business strategy controversy
Some statements Kotick has made about his business strategy have led to controversy. 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. 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." 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." 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."
A native of Long Island, New York, Kotick resides in California with his family. He and his wife divorced in late 2012. He had a cameo role in the 2011 film Moneyball. Kotick has donated to University of Michigan sports.
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- Media related to Robert Kotick at Wikimedia Commons