Activision CEO Bobby Kotick is paid too much, according to some disgruntled shareholders (via GamesIndustry.biz).
In a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the CtW Investment Group levied criticism towards Kotick, in keeping with its aim to identify “irresponsible and unethical corporate behavior and excessive executive pay.” Director Dieter Waiznegger recommended that Activision Blizzard shareholders express their disdain for Kotick in voting against the Management Say on Pay proposal, which will occur in the publisher’s general meeting on June 11.
“Despite repeated low approval votes from shareholders, Activision Blizzard maintains multiple, overlapping opportunities for its CEO to earn outsize equity awards, even when performance-related vesting thresholds have not been met,” read the filing. Apparently, Kotick has received almost $100 million in combined stock options and equity over the course of four years, and this is “consistently larger than the total pay… of CEO peers at similar companies.”
This doesn’t look very good when compared to the average Activision Blizzard employee salary, which is allegedly less than a third of one per cent of Kotick’s earnings. Waiznegger’s comments continued in the filing, and said that this situation is of “special concern” owing to the fact that the company fired 800 employees in early 2019, despite significant revenue for the last year.
“Disclosure surrounding the strategic objectives portion is severely lacking and merely cites ‘attracting, retaining and motivating top talent; cultivating new business opportunities and expanding existing ones; delivering production and development milestones; and increasing productivity,’” explained the filing. “We note that three of these objectives are clearly related to human capital management, and that Kotick’s apparent failure to achieve more than half of the targeted performance strongly suggests that Activision Blizzard’s skewed approach to human capital management—lavishing multi-million dollar rewards on the CEO as employees face layoffs—needs to be addressed before it manifests in deeper operational problems.”
Activision has fought Kotick’s corner in a statement, however. “During Mr. Kotick’s tenure—which is the longest of any CEO of a public technology company—Activision-Blizzard’s market capitalization has increased from less than $10 million to over $53 billion dollars,” the company claimed. “In the last five years, Activision-Blizzard’s share price has outperformed the S&P 500 by more than 120% and over the past 20 years, under Mr. Kotick’s leadership, Activision-Blizzard’s share price has outperformed the S&P 500 by over 11,000%.”