The state of California filed a lawsuit on July 20 against long-standing video game maker Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI), alleging widespread harassment and a discriminatory workplace. Less than a week later, employees across the company signed a petition that pits them against executives. Now, President J. Allen Brack has stepped down from his post.
Who's taking Brack's place and bearing responsibility for all the obstacles that Activision has yet to face?
Activision Blizzard reports an immediate change in leadership
In a press release on Aug. 3, Activision Blizzard stated that leadership will change at the company, effective immediately.
Brack has been president of Activision since October 2018. He took the place of Mike Morhaim, who left the company to create a new brand called Dreamhaven. Brack landed in his role as president after working his way up the corporate ladder since 2006 (his first position with the company was senior producer).
Activision's workplace harassment and discrimination issue is reportedly long-standing. Brack decided to leave his role after a swath of employees staged a walkout to protest executives' response to the California state lawsuit. The walkout took place at the corporate office in Irvine, Calif., and stemmed from "a pervasive 'frat boy' workplace culture," "cube crawls," "adverse terms and conditions of employment," and other issues laid out in the suit.
How will the new co-leaders handle the Activision Blizzard versus State of California lawsuit?
Two co-leaders will take Brack's place, at least for the interim—Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra. It isn't clear whether Oneal and Ybarra will inhabit their roles long-term or if this gives Blizzard a chance to find someone more fitting. Whatever the case, Activision says that the new co-leaders "are deeply committed to ensuring our workplace is the most inspired, welcoming environment for creative excellence."
Who are Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra?
Oneal and Ybarra are veterans in the Activision workplace, so there isn't any denying that they're fully aware of all the atrocities that have been going on within and outside of company walls. Given employees' activism over the last few weeks, any disingenuous leadership is likely to be called on, so their integrity will be put to the test.
Oneal has been with the company for 18 years. She's coming from her position as executive vice president of development. She has massively contributed to the Diablo and Overwatch video game franchises.
Ybarra has been an industry staple for two decades. He spent seven years at Microsoft XBOX. He's coming from his role as executive vice president and general manager of platform and technology at Activision.
What's next for former Activision Blizzard president J. Allen Brack?
According to reports, Brack is heading off to explore other opportunities—perhaps ones without highly publicized lawsuits alleging harassment and discrimination.
What do those other opportunities look like? We don't know. With Brack reportedly enabling sexual misconduct, the opportunities might be fewer and farther between than he hopes.
ATVI stock fell 5.4 percent following the news of Brack's departure. The shares have since recuperated slightly, but the company's recent returns are still in the red, all things considered.