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Bobby Kotick, who has been the CEO of Activision since 1991, is the second highest earning CEO in the video game industry and the report from Games One states that he was paid $154.6 million in compensation in 2020.
According to an article published by Forbes, Kotick's sense of entrepreneurial spirit manifested when he was a toddler, when he sold his mother's ashtray to a friend who had been invited for a playdate. Like me, you're probably thinking, "geez Louise, what a baller." His extreme level of coolness continued into adolescence, as he spent high school providing services like delivering sandwiches, restringing tennis rackets and selling wallets, and even gave out business cards to his peers.
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Success came easily to Kotick and in the early 1980s he was advised by Steve Jobs to leave his place at the University of Michigan to pursue the software business. In 1990, he bought a 25% stake in an almost bankrupt company called Mediagenic, restructured, refocused and renamed the publisher, and now Activision is one of the titans of the industry. It's all well and good describing the soaring heights that the company has surged to, but it's interesting to learn just how much moolah the most influential people in the industry make.
The report from Games One collated the compensation packages that 40 CEOs received from their companies in 2020 and found Robert Antokol, who works for the publisher Playtika, to be the highest earning individual with $372 million in that year alone. Kotick received less than half of what Antokol received, yet it's hardly an amount to sniff at. See the list here:
Yet, Kotick's name has hit the headlines with regard to his role in the alleged toxic culture that Activision fostered in its offices. A lawsuit against the company was filed in the summer of 2021, stating that women and nonwhite employees had been systematically disadvantaged and harassed through "pervasive frat boy" behaviours that went without reprimand. Moreover, the Wall Street Journal claimed that Kotick was aware of these problematic events and even stepped in to prevent a male employee from being sacked in spite of the human resources team's recommendation of termination. Most disturbingly, perhaps, is the accusation that Kotick threatened to kill one of his assistants in 2006.
That was settled out of court and an Activision representative recently explained that Kotick's words were "obviously hyperbolic and inappropriate," and added that "he deeply regrets the exaggeration and tone." These events have rippled outwards and have affected how companies like Sony, Microsoft and Lego relate to the publisher. "I think in terms of interactions with other companies, the things that we choose to do with our brand and our platform, in coordination or not with other companies, is the avenue that we have to have an impact," said Xbox boss Phil Spencer in an interview from this week. "I would say in terms of individuals that are in leadership positions at other companies, it’s not obviously our position to judge who the CEOs are."
Featured Image Credit: Activision
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