Following a week and a half of controversy surrounding a lawsuit against Activision-Blizzard for its sexist workplace culture, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack is leaving the company to “pursue new opportunities.”
The statement Blizzard put out buries Brack’s departure under the announcement that Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will be the new co-leaders of the company who “will share responsibility for development and operational accountability for the company.” Oneal has been acting as Executive Vice President of Development, and has been part of the leadership for Diablo and Overwatch. Ybarra was the Executive Vice President & General Manager of Platform and Technology at Blizzard, overseeing Battle.net and the company’s Development Services organizations. The statement the company put out stops short of actually giving Oneal and Ybarra any new title, which makes it seem like Blizzard itself is missing an acting president with Brack gone.
On a related note, Activision-Blizzard’s earnings call is set to take place later today. Before this, Brack would have been part of the call talking to shareholders. Now, we’ll have to wait and see how his departure is framed, because this might allow higher-ups to point at something and say real change is happening within the company, but removing one person at the top isn’t going to undo all the other problems happening at Activision-Blizzard.
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The entire announcement conveniently circumvents the events of the past week, which escalated after workers held a walkout to protest the working conditions within the company. Employees also called for the resignation of Frances Townsend, the company’s executive vice president for corporate affairs, after she released an internal statement dismissing the lawsuit’s claims and accounts of Activision-Blizzard’s workplace culture. She’s taking that part really well, it seems.