Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision Blizzard, could walk away from the gaming empire he helped create with $375 million once the acquisition by Microsoft is finalized. In January 2022, Microsoft announced it was in the process of purchasing the video game holding company based in Santa Monica, California, in a $68.7 billion deal.
Bobby Kotick has been the CEO of Activision Blizzard since the very beginning. In February 1991, he became the chairman and chief executive officer of Activision, which he first dreamed up with his roommate at Michigan State University. Kotick became the CEO of Activision Blizzard after helping successfully merge it with Vivendi Games in July 2008.
Bobby Kotick’s Activision Shares
Company filings show Kotick owns nearly 4 million shares of Activision. That’s more than any other director or officer. Activision Board Chairman Brian Kelly is the second-largest holder with 1.4 million shares through a foundation and trusts, and a stake valued at $137.1 million, which is based on deal terms.
Kotick received total compensation of $155 million in 2020, which mostly came in the form of moon shot-incentive stock awards. The board granted those moon shot-incentive stock awards in 2016. According to a statement by an Activision spokesperson regarding Bobby Kotick’s total compensation in 2020, “The vast majority was a result of having successfully delivered substantial shareholder return over a four-year period.”
Bobby Kotick’s Future at Activision
Bobby Kotick will continue to be the CEO of Activision Blizzard. Although, in an email to staff, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer stated, “Once the acquisition is completed, the Activision Blizzard business will report to me,” for now, Bobby Kotick will continue to lead his team to accelerate business growth while strengthening Activision’s company culture. He praised everyone at the company over the past three decades for creating “some of the most successful games.”
And he’s confident Microsoft will be an asset to Activision in every way. “The combination of Activision Blizzard’s talent and extraordinary franchises with Microsoft’s technology, distribution, access to talent, ambitious vision, and shared commitment to gaming and inclusion will help ensure our continued success in an increasingly competitive industry,” he says.
What made Bobby Kotick accept the deal? “When Microsoft originally called, we said we would think about it,” he shares. And then they called back. “They made this offer that was incredibly attractive at a 45% premium over the stock price,” explains Kotick. “I think it just made a lot of sense. And so, the more we spent the time talking about how it would work and how it would happen and what resources were available, it became clear they were the right partner.”
Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer on the Activision Acquisition
Spencer says he grew up playing Activision games and hopes to breathe new life into some stalled franchises like Guitar Hero and King’s Quest. “Players everywhere love Activision Blizzard games,” he says. “We believe the creative teams have their best work in front of them. Together we will build a future where people can play the games they want, virtually anywhere they want.”
Bobby Kotick: Phones Are the Future of Gaming
According to Kotick, most of what Microsoft creates isn’t related to the gaming industry, which could be a major asset. “I think that was an important part of the discussions,” he notes. “With Microsoft, most of the content they create has nothing to do with gaming [but] they’re on every device with a microprocessor and a display. I don’t think they have a mobile business. So for them, King was a very complementary thing.”
Bobby Kotick is certain phones are the future of gaming. “We all realize that gaming over the next five years is going to be more on phones than on any other devices,” he says. “Microsoft has given us repeated assurances that our content will be available on as many devices as possible.”