It is probably very difficult to be uber-wealthy and not constantly be in the news, but it’s probably a lot easier to do so for not-terrible reasons than Activision-Blizzard-King CEO Bobby Kotick is making it seem.
According to a new report by the Wall Street Journal, Kotick once again is at the center of a story that not only alleges wrongdoing on his part, but also involves a cover-up from people close to him. WSJ reports that Facebook/Meta’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who assumed the COO role at the company in 2008 after serving in the Clinton administration, took an active role in suppressing stories about Bobby Kotick, as the two had a romantic relationship at the time. Twice in the last six years, Sandberg put pressure on British newspaper The Daily Mail to kill a story about Kotick’s ex-girlfriend filing a restraining order against, alleging that he had stalked and harassed her after their separation.
Kotick and Sandberg together, the report says, developed a strategy to persuade The Daily Mail not to surface the restraining order in 2016 and once again in 2019, shortly before the pair ended their relationship. The Wall Street Journal began reporting on these incidents late last year, which prompted an internal review from Facebook.
The social media company apparently worried that Sandberg’s actions would reflect negatively on her reputation as an advocate for women, which seems like a boat that has long since sailed when you begin dating Bobby Kotick.
Kotick’s accuser has largely recanted on the issue of the restraining order, which Kotick and Sandberg used as evidence to persuade The Daily Mail to kill their story, though she never officially retracted all of it. However, the existence of the restraining order itself does not appear to be in contention, and the cover-up of trying to dissuade a news source from running the story constitutes a major ethical breach. According to WSJ, Kotick reportedly told people that Sandberg leveraged Facebook’s role as a news aggregator with the outlet to influence editorial decisions, though both Kotick and Meta denied that in the story.
Activision-Blizzard-King is currently in the process of being wholesale acquired by Microsoft to be part of the Xbox games division. In a recent court filing, Activision has stated that the two companies have not yet discussed Kotick’s role after the acquisition, which they actually cannot discuss while the process is ongoing.
[Source: Wall Street Journal]