$200 million payout to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick draws ire

Performance-based payouts to the Activision Blizzard CEO are not sitting well with some in the finance sector.

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A recent bonus payout from Activision Blizzard to its CEO Bobby Kotick is drawing outside criticism. The $200 million dollar bonus is tied to the growth in Activision Blizzard Stock value over the last couple of years, though critics argue that external factors beyond what a CEO could influence as the reason for the stock valuation.

The pushback against Kotick’s payout comes from CtW Investment Group. The firm had taken issue with the $30 million Kotick received in 2019 and reportedly have similar complaints regarding the $200 million bonus.

"While the increase in Activision's stock price is somewhat commendable, as we stated last year and continue to assert, this achievement alone does not justify such a substantial pay outcome for the CEO," director of executive compensation research Michael Varner said. "There are many factors that may contribute to a rise in this particular company's stock price that may not be directly attributable to Robert Kotick's leadership. The use of video games as one of the few entertainment options available amid the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has been a boon to many companies in the gaming industry irrespective of executive talent or strategic decisions."

The Activision Blizzard CEO earned the $200 million bonus as a part of the Shareholder Value Creation Incentive provision in his contract. Against recent news that the company dumped nearly 200 employees this week, the exorbitant payout to its CEO feels ill-timed at best. The former employees reportedly received ninety days severance pay and a $200 Battle.net gift card.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

From The Chatty
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    March 17, 2021 11:50 AM

    Chris Jarrard posted a new article, $200 million payout to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick draws ire

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      March 17, 2021 12:03 PM

      The Activision Blizzard CEO earned the $200 million bonus as a part of the Shareholder Value Creation Incentive provision in his contract. Against recent news that the company dumped nearly 200 employees this week, the exorbitant payout to its CEO feels ill-timed at best. The former employees reportedly received ninety days severance pay and a $200 Battle.net gift card.

      I feel like this type of shit happens all the time.

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        March 17, 2021 12:07 PM

        $200 battlenet gift card would make me homicidal

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        March 17, 2021 12:47 PM

        We need an "oof" tag

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          March 18, 2021 2:30 AM

          Honestly where did that word come from? Suddenly it's everywhere and just sounds kinda dumb to me.

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            March 18, 2021 8:06 AM

            I think it’s the sound you make when you get punched in the stomach.

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        March 17, 2021 1:13 PM

        jesus the gift card is such a kick in the balls

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          March 17, 2021 1:14 PM

          It’s essentially restaurant tickets

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            March 17, 2021 5:45 PM

            Even less, because it costs Activision absolutely nothing. Why not give them $1000 Battle.net cards?

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        March 17, 2021 1:40 PM

        wait, why is everything 200? 200 mil 200 employees 200 dolla gift card

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        March 17, 2021 1:42 PM

        Battle net gift card????

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      March 17, 2021 12:05 PM

      That's fucked up. I hate executive compensation. Since I am in info sec I get to come across this stuff from time to time. Saw some VP get a million buyout just to make them go away. This was on top of their salary for a year. Meanwhile no one got a cost a living increase.

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        March 17, 2021 12:08 PM

        it seems like executive compensation is specifically designed to be tone deaf

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        March 17, 2021 12:10 PM

        Once you make it to executive level you can fuck up the entire company and still get paid on your way out, I hate it.

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          March 17, 2021 3:51 PM

          I'm not defending the $200M payout or executives cashing in when they're directly responsible for critical business failures, but much of the time those payouts, benefit extensions, etc. exist due to the length of time that it may take that individual to find their next position. The hottest executives are always going to be in immediate demand but that's not the case for everyone. It can take 12+ months for a C-level talent to find the next organization.

          /straps on helmet and hides in bunker

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            March 17, 2021 3:56 PM

            You cant try to humanize millionaires here man, i recommend a quick 'fight the power' and then a quick fade away into the background

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        March 17, 2021 1:01 PM

        I feel like that’s exactly where I work lol

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        March 17, 2021 1:46 PM

        What's a "cost of living increase"? I know not what such a thing is, I vaguely remember something in 2011-2012 that was called a similar name.

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        March 17, 2021 7:41 PM

        It's called a golden parachute. Yeah it's fucked and the working class is powerless to stop it

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      March 17, 2021 12:14 PM

      Man that's gross, they've fired a lot of people over the past few years and then give 200 MILLION to one guy. Just ridiculously. Maybe I put too little in the abilities of a CEO, but no one employee is worth that much.

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        March 17, 2021 12:24 PM

        laying people off isnt just about saving money tho, sometimes its about not paying people to sit around and do nothing if they don't have the work for them. not saying this pay packet isn't ridiculous, just that we don't really have all the facts.

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          March 17, 2021 12:30 PM

          so give them 6 mos severance instead and support them in their job search

          had 200 million to give this limp dick do nothing, could use it to actually make change

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            March 17, 2021 12:56 PM

            I was going to post a thoughtful response but then i saw it was you so imma just head out

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              March 17, 2021 4:22 PM

              it’s true, no amount of thoughtfulness will rationalize a 200MM executive bonus alongside 3 mo severance packages for a bunch of rank and file

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            March 17, 2021 2:59 PM

            If they could afford to drop 200 big ones on the CEO, they could have afforded to give everyone a year’s salary.

            The 90 day pay is horseshit, tho

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          March 17, 2021 2:35 PM

          Why not invest in them to train them up for something else? Maybe just take 10 mil off the top and not wreck 200 lives.

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            March 17, 2021 2:38 PM

            Honestly no idea, maybe they didnt have enough work for them in any department, like i said we dont have the full story

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            March 17, 2021 9:03 PM

            Because their hr record indicate that they extracted every last bit of blood from them.

            In order her words, why retrain them when they can hire newer, more knowledgeable in newer tech, mote relevant people?

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          March 17, 2021 4:24 PM

          Gta v was ~100m to make. Consider they could have put out another game with ~200m that could pull in a billion dollars

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            March 17, 2021 5:12 PM

            The board of directors needs to get tossed.

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          March 17, 2021 8:47 PM

          What you’re describing is literally about saving money.

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        March 17, 2021 5:21 PM

        fucking INF

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      March 17, 2021 12:23 PM

      Sorry to the 200 people we just "had" to lay off, but we did give you a severance that included a store gift card!

      When you think about the average salary of the person laid off vs a single person getting a 200M payout...this whole thing is just beyond absurd.

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      March 17, 2021 12:26 PM

      Lol they coulda kept those 200 people on for a few more months during a pandemic and given everyone a raise instead but lol

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      March 17, 2021 12:59 PM

      Damn our system is broken AF

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      March 17, 2021 12:59 PM

      Disgusting.

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      March 17, 2021 1:13 PM

      I was kind of waffling on the layoffs yesterday because it sucks, but they got good severance and health benefits to keep for a year. If I left on good terms, I'd just sit on the gift card, let feelings mull over, and wait for Diablo 4 to come out to use it.

      The $200 million incentive to the CEO right alongside the layoffs makes me take it all back. This was a bad move and Blizzard should feel bad.

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        March 17, 2021 1:25 PM

        the problem is, they agreed to that contract with the the CEO prolly years ago, but they definitely could have timed this all better

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        March 17, 2021 7:27 PM

        Severance used to be 6 months. These guys were sitting around for a year doing almost nothing. I’m not saying it’s their fault but when you notice productivity going down at your work- that’s when you find another job.

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          March 17, 2021 8:53 PM

          You mean like Blackcat9 here who was laid back ff just thus/last week one week after launching the new battle.net update? Blizzard had and has no shortage of work. What they’ve repeatedly done is mass layoff people they rehire glide the exact same jobs with for less pay. It happened last time and the time before that. It had nothing to do with no work to do and all about cutting costs.

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          March 17, 2021 10:48 PM

          Dude, it's a pandemic. People can't just leave and find a new job.

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      March 17, 2021 4:24 PM

      I owe my soul to the Battle.net company store. What a joke.

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      March 17, 2021 4:56 PM

      Damn, they gave their new CFO $15 million on stock and cash just to accept the role (not sure what he was before).

      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-04/activision-gives-15-million-sweetener-to-new-cfo-dennis-durkin

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      March 17, 2021 5:20 PM

      Think of all the great blizzard games they have recently put out like:

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        March 17, 2021 5:32 PM

        Blizzard isn't in the business of making a lot of games, though. They're in the business of making a few games that people play forever.

        This story is still gross, though. CEOs can get fucked.

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        March 17, 2021 5:48 PM

        for real

        everything out of blizzard are just HD remasters.
        its meme-able at this point.

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          March 17, 2021 9:18 PM

          That isn't true. They just released a 120 fps patch for Overwatch on the Series X... oh, ummmm, well shit.

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        March 17, 2021 10:51 PM

        Reminds me of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oMTmtN7lHI

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      March 17, 2021 10:37 PM

      By comparison, the CEO of Nintendo’s total compensation (salary + bonuses) is $2.5M per year.

      It’s the same company where Iwata and the leadership staff took 50% paycuts during the mid-2010s in order to avoid layoffs.

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        March 17, 2021 10:54 PM

        Cannot inf this enough. Iwata was such an amazing person in general. I love the stories of him choosing to just re-code a portion of a game when he saw the need, while he was CEO.

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        March 18, 2021 2:06 AM

        Then where does Nintendo's profits go? They are insanely popular, charge high prices and sell tons. They must be making so much money. Where does it all go?

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          March 18, 2021 2:13 AM

          They pay a steady bi-annual dividend. They're also just the most cash rich company in Japan I think.

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          March 18, 2021 2:45 AM

          Game development, R&D, cash stockpile to ride out fallow times. Even in the Wii U era when executives took their pay cut they still had something like $10 billion in cash. Success in the Wii era allowed them to ride out the next wave.

          R&D and hiring have also only been going up over the last decade. They benefitted a lot from consolidation in the industry over in Japan (ie - absorbing ex-Konami and Sony staff, etc)

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            March 18, 2021 2:46 AM

            And like peanut said, their bi-annual dividend. All of my YOLO GME money was from NTDOY divvies from last year

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      March 18, 2021 12:02 AM

      This is what he looks like if anyone’s wondering.
      I was. https://www.wealthypersons.com/bobby-kotick-net-worth-2020-2021/

      That picture should answer if he’ll give any of the money back. Or if he’ll stop doing it.

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      March 18, 2021 2:15 AM

      That guy always seems like the quintessential generic business asshole to me. Like the dictionary definition of a "suit".

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      March 18, 2021 2:31 AM

      Who needs 200 million FFS? It's just keeping score with your fellow golf club cunts at that point.

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