Robert A. Kotick, better known as Bobby Kotick, has been the CEO of Activision for the better part of three decades. When Activision merged with Vivendi Games in the late 2000s, it would later lead to the merger of Activision and Blizzard Entertainment in 2008, where Bobby would be named as its inaugural CEO. He has held the position since, and his hold on the company doesn't seem to be wavering, regardless of the highs and lows that the company faces. Bobby is in the spotlight right now thanks to the sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit by the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment. Most recently, The Wall Street Journal published a report detailing how involved Bobby Kotick was in these controversies. Due to these reports, calls for Kotick's resignation as Activision CEO reached a fever high. He would later tell his colleagues that he'd consider leaving the company if he can't solve the issues fast enough. As part of the solutions he's working on, he requested to receive only a minimum salary until Activision fixes these issues. However, even with this salary cut, we don't expect his net worth to be affected as much. In this article, we explore Bobby Kotick's net worth in 2021 and see if any of these salary cuts actually make any dent in Bobby's wealth.
Bobby Kotick's Early Life, Education, and Career
Born in 1963, Bobby grew up in New York. A 2009 Forbes article recounted his early days as a business-minded youth, renting out Manhattan clubs on off-nights to do business. He would attend the University of Michigan in the 80s for a degree in Art History.
During his time at the University of Michigan, he and a friend founded Arktronics, a now-defunct tech company developing software for the Apple II. His company would get investments from the likes of Steve Wynn and would meet Steve Jobs later on, who would advise him to leave college to focus on his company.
In 1987, he tried to acquire Commodore International but failed to convince then-Chairman Irving Gould to sell control of the company. He would instead purchase a controlling stake in Leisure Concepts, later renamed 4Kids Entertainment, the licensing agent of Nintendo.
The Activision Revival
In the early 1990s, console game developer Mediagenic fell into deep debt as its capital expansion failed to pay for the equipment they purchased in an attempt to bounce back out of the 1983 video game crash. Bobby Kotick would sweep in and purchase the company for $500,000 in December 1990, bringing in much-needed funds that revitalized the company. The company was founded as Activision, Inc., but renamed itself Mediagenic after a shift in leadership. Kotick's takeover led to the dismissal of most of the Mediagenic staff, a relocation to Los Angeles, and a return to the name Activision.
Ever since then, Activision would bounce back up from the verge of bankruptcy with successes in video game franchises like Call of Duty and Guitar Hero. In 2008, Activision merged with Vivendi Games, the holding company of Blizzard Entertainment, and thus formed Activision Blizzard, with Bobby Kotick as its inaugural CEO.
The merger would further expand Activision, and of course, made a positive impact on Bobby Kotick's net worth. During the time of the merger, Bobby Kotick's net worth was estimated to be around $3 million, when he had 2% control of Activision Blizzard, which was then worth $135 million.
Bobby Kotick's Net Worth in 2021: over $8 billion (estimate)
Bobby Kotick's net worth in 2021 is estimated to be at $8 billion. In 2020, with earnings of $154.61 million, Bobby Kotick was the second-highest-paid CEO in the country. Bobby still owns about 4.3 million Activision Blizzard shares (amounting to about $261 million). Apart from his shares in Activision Blizzard, Kotick also owns about $16 million in shares in Coca-Cola.
This hefty net worth makes people feel not so confident with his request to receive only the minimum salary required for a CEO in Activision Blizzard for as long as the company has not settled its sexual harassment and discrimination issues. With such a hefty net worth, it doesn't feel like any of these will actually make a dent on his lifestyle, and many have seen this move as a token gesture meant to appease the crowd, more than anything else.
Outside of Activision Blizzard
Outside of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick also held key roles in other tech companies over the past two decades. He previously served as a Yahoo! Board Member from March 2003 to August 2008. He's also a non-executive director for The Coca-Cola Company.
Bobby also has led philanthropic activities, putting his net worth to good use. He is a board member at the Center for Early Education and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, a board member of the Tony Hawk Foundation, and the Call of Duty Endowment, which aims to help war veterans.
In 2020, Kotick pledged $1 million and a matching $1 million in Activision Blizzard employee donations to support the United Negro College Fund, the Equal Justice Initiative, and Management Leadership Tomorrow.
Bobby Kotick controversies and issues
Bobby Kotick's net worth may have dipped due to some controversies and issues that he has been involved in. Primary to this is the ongoing lawsuit coming from the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment on allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination in Activision Blizzard's workplace. Bobby was pushed to the front of the controversy when a WSJ report detailed how involved he was in some of these sexual harassment cases. He was informed of sexual harassment cases in Call of Duty studio Sledgehammer Games but did nothing about the case until faced with the threat of a lawsuit, wherein Kotick immediately settled out of court with the victim. However, Kotick did not notify the Board of Directors of Activision Blizzard of the incident.
He has also been criticized for the way he views video game franchises under Activision Blizzard. As someone who do not enjoy playing video games himself, Kotick's primary concern in the video game industry is profits. He has been noted to hold the opinion that the best video games for Activision Blizzard to focus on are “annualizable”, “exploitable” IPs that can be sold for long periods of time, shying away from new IPs that may not even be able to produce sequels.
Kotick was also criticized for jokingly saying that if it were up to him, he would jack up prices of video games even higher.
In spite of the many controversies that Activision Blizzard and Bobby Kotick himself face, the CEO still enjoys the faith and confidence of Activision Blizzard's Board of Directors. In a statement, the Board assured that:
“The Activision Blizzard Board remains committed to the goal of making Activision Blizzard the most welcoming and inclusive company in the industry. Under Bobby Kotick’s leadership the Company is already implementing industry leading changes including a zero tolerance harassment policy, a dedication to achieving significant increases to the percentages of women and non-binary people in our workforce and significant internal and external investments to accelerate opportunities for diverse talent. The Board remains confident that Bobby Kotick appropriately addressed workplace issues brought to his attention.”
However, Activision Blizzard employees and industry leaders believe that Bobby Kotick should be removed from his position as CEO if Activision Blizzard wants to give an impression that employee safety is important to them. Until then, and as long as Bobby Kotick remains as CEO, then Activision Blizzard will continue receiving disdain from the video game industry. Only time will tell if the pressure put on by the likes of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo would move Activision Blizzard to finally remove Bobby Kotick from office.