Microsoft has partnered with Activision Blizzard to address a variety of concerns. The partnership will see the two companies working together on safety and culture initiatives which affect game developers, online communities, and players.
Activision Blizzard has been in the news recently. Microsoft, which is one of Activision’s biggest investors, has called on the company to make safety and culture a top priority. Read more in detail here: activision blizzard lawsuit.
Microsoft President Brad Smith spoke with CNBC’s Emon Javers on the Activision Blizzard incident and how the presumed parent company wants to handle endemic workplace culture problems in an interview with Emon Javers. Smith reacted with a series of statements, urging Activision Blizzard to make workplace safety and culture a top priority every day until the purchase is finalized, at which time Microsoft will make the same pledge.
CNBC’s Javers: If you’re able to take over the reins at Activision, what will Microsoft do to address this in the future?
Microsoft’s Smith: If there’s one thing we’ve learned about dealing with sexual harassment, or practically any other problem of culture for that matter, it’s that it takes a mix of dedication and humility. You must be dedicated to improving the situation. We’re counting on Activision Blizzard’s leadership team to make culture and workplace safety a top priority every day until the deal is hopefully closed, at which point we’ll take over and make the same promise.
But I also believe that humility is important. When you believe you’re finished, when you think you can claim success, you’re probably sacrificing the exact ideals you’re trying to promote. So we always approach this with the understanding that we’ve been on a route, that we’ve been developing, that we hope is a constructive one, and that this is something that affects not only Activision Blizzard, but every element of Microsoft, the whole IT sector, and every firm in the entire economy.
Smith was just as non-committal as prior replies from both Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Activision CEO Bobby Kotick when asked who will and will not stay among the leadership at Activision Blizzard when Microsoft takes control.
According to the Wall Street Journal, unnamed sources said Kotick had already agreed to leave once the deal closed. However, Smith’s repeated emphasis on seeing the culture evolve under the current leadership makes it sound as if Microsoft is giving Bobby Kotick a chance to make good on a comment made in November, in which the CEO allegedly told senior managers that if he couldn’t fix the company’s culture, he would consider leaving. While many feel this is impossible, and that Kotick is a symbol of the issues, giving him this “opportunity” might be a condition of their talks, or perhaps a convenient pretext to impose a choice that has already been taken… however how it will play out remains to be seen.
CNBC’s Javers: And you say you’re picturing a whole new leadership team at Activision when we take over?
Microsoft’s Smith: We’ve said that certain parts may change, but that everything will be handled by a new team that will collaborate. Most importantly, we want to see the culture change, so we’ll keep an eye on how individuals perform between now and the deadline, if it’s authorized. Then we’ll have the chance to double-check that we’ve got the appropriate individuals in the correct roles.
CNBC’s Javers: Between now and then, it seems that the individuals who work there will be scrutinized.
Microsoft’s Smith: I believe we should all live in a world where we are constantly scrutinized. The world is changing, and I believe it is primarily for the better. It’s simply another example of how, if we embrace the chance to change, we’ll be better able to serve our workers.
Microsoft’s intentions for a new multi-platform app store, as well as their commitment to not just preserving Call of Duty on PlayStation, but also bringing additional Activision Blizzard games to other platforms, were briefly discussed throughout the approximately 11-minute conversation.
Activision Blizzard, the company behind games like “Call of Duty,” has been called on by Microsoft to make safety and culture a top priority. The call came after the death of a 19-year-old player who died during a livestream. Reference: nasdaq atvi.
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