Activision Blizzard is parting ways with its chief people officer, Claudine Naughton, the company announced on Tuesday. The company said Naughton's departure is unrelated to its ongoing sexual harassment crisis instigated last month by a California labor lawsuit, which alleged widespread discrimination against female employees.
Replacing Naughton is Julie Hodges, the senior vice president of human resources at The Walt Disney Company.
It's not immediately clear why Naughton is leaving the company. But Activision Blizzard is still under intense pressure from employees, the game industry at large and labor and activist groups. Earlier Tuesday, the Communications Workers of America filed unfair labor charges against the company for allegedly trying to squash union organizing efforts in the wake of the lawsuit.
Late last month, California's Department of Fair Employment & Housing, the state agency suing the company for harassment and discrimination, expanded its lawsuit to cover temporary workers at Activision Blizzard. The agency also accused the company's HR department of shredding documents relevant to its investigation and said Activision Blizzard was interfering with the agency's efforts to speak with current and former employees through the use of non-disclosure agreements. Activision Blizzard denied the claims at the time.
But none of Activision Blizzard's executives have left prior to Naughton, and the company has refused to acknowledge any of the demands made by an internal group of employees, known as the ABK Workers Alliance, that have organized protests and other labor actions to promote change and accountability.
In addition to Hodges, Activision Blizzard is also adding another new executive to its ranks: Sandeep Dube, the senior vice president of revenue management at Delta Airlines. Dube will become Activision Blizzard's acting chief commercial officer. Both start later this month.
The SEC announced Tuesday that it's charging App Annie, the mobile app data provider, with securities fraud, accusing the company of "engaging in deceptive practices" and misrepresenting the origins of its data. App Annie will pay a $10 million settlement, according to the announcement, although the company has not admitted to any of the SEC's findings.
According to the SEC, the company, which sells estimates on app downloads, usage and revenue, assured app businesses that the performance data they shared with App Annie would only be used in an anonymized way and run through an algorithm to generate performance estimates. But the SEC accuses App Annie and its former CEO and Chairman Bertrand Schmitt of reneging on that promise and using actual performance data to tweak its estimate models between 2014 and 2018. Then, the SEC alleges, the company sold that confidential data to trading firms, and misled those customers into thinking that the data was compliant with federal securities laws.
"Here, App Annie and Schmitt lied to companies about how their confidential data was being used and then not only sold the manipulated estimates to their trading firm customers, but also encouraged them to trade on those estimates—often touting how closely they correlated with the companies' true performance and stock prices," Gurbir S. Grewal, director of the SEC's Enforcement Division, said in a statement.
In addition to the $10 million settlement, Schmitt is required to pay $300,000 and is barred from serving as a director or officer of any public company for three years.
App Annie said Tuesday that it had made "a number of material changes" in recent years, including appointing a new CEO and a head of compliance. In a statement to Protocol, Theodore Krantz, App Annie's current CEO, used the opportunity to call for stricter regulation of the entire industry. "Many businesses may be unknowingly leveraging data reliant on confidential public company information without explicit consent which we believe puts companies using digital/mobile market data at significant risk," Krantz said. "It is our opinion that the entire alternative data space needs to be regulated."
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) filed unfair labor charges against gaming giant Activision Blizzard for worker intimidation on Monday, alleging the company has tried to squash organizing efforts in the wake of an ongoing discrimination and sexual assault scandal.
Activision Blizzard is currently battling a lawsuit from the state of California that says the company fostered a toxic workplace and allowed repeated discrimination and sexual harassment. After the state first filed the suit, countless workers came forward with stories of pay discrimination, abuse and harassment. While Blizzard's former president J. Allen Brack resigned in the immediate wake of the lawsuit, current company leaders have not committed to any lasting cultural changes.
The charges from the CWA — filed on behalf of workers at the company pushing for change through a campaign calling itself "A Better ABK" — allege Activision Blizzard has used "coercive tactics" to try to prevent employees from organizing for a workplace free of abuse, acts which are protected from retaliation under federal labor laws. Lawyers for CWA wrote in the charge sheet that Activision Blizzard "has threatened employees that they cannot talk about or communicate about wages, hours and working conditions" and "told employees they cannot communicate with or discuss ongoing investigations of wages, hours and working conditions," as well as surveilled and questions workers about their organizing.
Activision Blizzard did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Amazon plans to hire another 125,000 warehouse workers and delivery drivers in the United States, as well as 40,000 more corporate employees.
The new hiring would bring Amazon's U.S. headcount to well over 1 million workers, excluding the gig and contract-based workers who work for Amazon Prime delivery operations.
Amazon has reportedly struggled to retain and recruit the workers it needs for its fulfillment and warehouse operations because of high rates of turnover caused by worker dissatisfaction with time quotas, injury rates, a glitchy HR system, coronavirus rules and other issues. The company is the second-largest private employer in the United States after Walmart (which employs around 1.6 million people), and its career page usually lists tens of thousands of open jobs on any given day.
Zoom announced Monday the launch of Zoom Whiteboard, which allows users to collaborate asynchronously via a virtual whiteboard accessible from Zoom, as well as from a web browser.
Users will be able to "create, annotate, and share ideas from any device whether you're in a Zoom meeting or not," according to a company blog post. Features include sticky notes and a comments section, as well as version controls which allow users to track the edit history of the whiteboard. Users can share their Zoom Whiteboards with other users via email or Zoom Chat.
Zoom also announced a virtual reality integration in collaboration with Facebook set to drop next year. Users of Facebook's Horizon Workrooms—a new app that allows people to meet in VR rooms—will be able to connect with each other in Zoom Meetings and collaborate in Zoom Whiteboards, all via Oculus headsets.
The announcements helped kick off Zoom's annual Zoomtopia conference, which runs through Tuesday.