Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision, is not who you would call a popular figure in the video game community. Most gamers who follow the industry might tell you that Activision only cares about maximizing profits and that their employees and customers take a back seat.
Back in March, Activision shocked the gaming community when they released Jason West and Vince Zampella, two of the top members of Infinity Ward. A lot of rumors have circulated around regarding what was the actual cause of their termination. While we may never know the truth due to the lawsuits filed, one popular theory is that West and Zampella butted heads with Kotick over the future direction of the studio.
A recent lawsuit Kotick has been involved with may lend some ideas into how he views his subordinates. Back in 2007, a flight attendant named Cynthia Madvig filed suit against Cove Management for sexual harassment, wrongful termination, failure to prevent sexual harassment, and retaliating by terminating her employment for reporting the harassment. Cove Management is a company owned and created by Kotick and Andrew Gordon, an executive with Goldman & Sachs, to manage a private Gulfstream jet they jointly own.
Madvig claimed that a pilot under Cove’s employment pressured her to accompanying him to dinner and events when traveling. When Madvig refused she claimed the pilot “set out to make life miserable” for her and made her clean the plane’s toilets. She reported the issue to Gordon and two months later Kotick released her from employment by supposedly saying “The guys are unhappy with the hostile environment.”
Kotick hired Patricia Glaser, a lawyer with the firm Christensen, Glaser, Fink, Jacobs, Weil & Shapiro, to defend against the suit filed by Madvig. Once Glaser came on as Kotick’s lawyer she suggested that the suit could be settled for as little as $200,000 and be over with. According to court records “Mr. Kotick believed no sexual harassment or retaliation had taken place and it was important to vindicate the principle even if it would be very expensive in terms of legal fees.” A few months later Kotick eventually settled with Madvig but not before racking up some high legal fees from Glaser.
The legal fees Glaser claimed that Kotick and Gordon owed were over $1 million dollars. Kotick and Gordon disagreed claiming that amount was “excessive and inappropriate.” The two sides entered arbitration and it was eventually decided in Glaser’s favor.
During this arbitration some interesting aspects of Bobby Kotick’s personality were shown. According to the arbitrator:
“Mr. Kotick wanted to destroy the other side and not to pay Ms. Madvig anything… Mr. Kotick realized this was not a good business proposition, but said ‘that he was worth one-half billion dollars and he didn’t mind spending some of it on attorneys’ fees.” … “Mr. Kotick said ‘he would not be extorted and that he would ruin the Plaintiff and her attorney and see to it that Ms. Madvig would never work again.”
This decision was taken to court and upheld. Kotick and his lawyers appealed the lower court’s decision. On July, 6, 2010 the lower court’s decision was affirmed by a panel of three judges requiring Kotick and Gordon to pay the $1.42 million plus interest to Glaser’s firm. Kotick’s lawyer says that his clients are looking at their options when asked if they plan to appeal this decision again.
So what do you guys think? It sounds to me like this story fuels the rumor that West and Zampella had conflict with Kotick. It seems to me that this guy loves the power and money he has and will use them to take on anyone he views as a threat. A situation that could have been settled for $200,000 could end up costing him over a million just because he wanted to make an example out of someone.
Source: LA Times