Activision Blizzard Protest Organizer Resigns; Six State Treasurers Call for Change at Videogame Conglomerate

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Activision Blizzard Protest Organizer Resigns; Six State Treasurers Call for Change at Videogame Conglomerate

Jessica Gonzalez, Senior Test Analyst at Blizzard Entertainment, resigned from the company on Tuesday through an internal email with the subject line “My commitment to my Future…” which she also published on Twitter. Gonzalez is one of the organizers behind A Better ABK (an acronym which combines Activision Blizzard with Sweden/Maltese subsidiary King), the employee group that organized the Nov. 16 walkout and petition calling for CEO Bobby Kotick to step down from his position after allowing an abusive culture to ferment for 30 years. The analyst and organizer announced that she is moving into “a senior quality engineering role for a financial tech company, and out of Game Development entirely.”

Gonzalez thanked her coworkers for their support and called Bobby Kotick to task, saying that his “inaction and refusal to take accountability is driving out great talent.” Gonzalez follows former Blizzard co-lead Jen Oneal leaving the company at the beginning of November after just two months in the co-lead role, where she was not paid as well as her male counterpart.

Read the full statement here:

My commitment to my Future…
Hello ABK,

Unfortunately, this is a goodbye message. It’s been a journey over the years, and I have made the decision to leave Blizzard by putting my wellbeing first. I’ve accepted an opportunity that is too good to pass up. I’ll still be moving into a senior quality engineering role for a financial tech company, and out of Game Development entirely.

I regret that I couldn’t meet my colleagues under better circumstances, but I take our shared vision for diversity, equity, inclusion, and workers’ rights with me and value the work that we’ve done during my time here. For those of you thankful for my voice, I encourage you to find yours and use it. There are good people in the industry, and I believe with enough education and awareness ABK can be a great place to be. There’s lots of work to do still and I am mentally wounded from this fight. It’s been a long and exhausting road for change, but it isn’t over.

Don’t forget what so many passionate developers worked hard towards and continue to work towards in my absence. Let your passion and the passion of those around you drive the spark that ignites meaningful change. I believe in the good people in this company and can’t wait to see where you all can take it.

To @bkotick: Your inaction and refusal to take accountability is driving out great talent and the products will suffer until you are removed from your position as CEO. This may seem harsh, but you had years to fix the culture and look at where the company currently stands.

My last day is December 10th.
Every Voice Matters,
Jessica Gonzalez

Activision Blizzard is facing broad scrutiny in the press and public after workers have walked out and called for CEO Bobby Kotick to resign. In the past two weeks, news about sexual harassment and pay discrimination has centered on Activision Blizzard, while Riot Games is in the middle of a three-year series of legal battles, Apple is being called out to the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) by a whistleblower, and a former IT Security Analyst has sued Sony PlayStation for discriminatory workplace practices.

Axios reported yesterday that the treasury departments of the states of California, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon are calling on the company to take action. In a letter written Nov. 23, the treasurers of the six states requested a meeting with Activision Blizzard’s board of directors “to discuss [the board’s] response to the challenges and investment risk exposures that face Activision.”

The day after the Nov. 17 walkout, activist investor group Strategic Organizing Center (SOC) called to vote against the re-election of the current board, an option the treasurers said in their letter they would consider.

Illinois state treasurer Michael Frerichs told Axios that the treasurers “think there needs to be sweeping changes made in the company.” Massachusetts treasurer Deborah Goldberg expressed incredulity that the Activision Blizzard board said after the walkout that they stand behind Kotick.

While put in language that addressed the culture of sexual misconduct and gender discrimination in terms about financial risk to their investors, at least these states are attempting to use the funds they have control over to push Activision Blizzard to address their internal problems. The treasurers expect to have a meeting with Activision Blizzard by Dec. 20.

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