Activision Blizzard has been embroiled in a sexism and workplace discrimination crisis for the past six months, the effects of which directly led to the announcement on Tuesday that Microsoft plans to buy the publisher for a record-breaking $68.7 billion, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
The company's board was standing behind CEO Bobby Kotick, despite nearly 2,000 employees calling on him to resign. Upper management said it was putting into effect new safeguards against workplace harassment after firing more than three dozen employees and disciplining more than 40 others. But the lack of faith among employees in Kotick's leadership, combined with a plummeting stock price and a near-constant barrage of damning media reports, had begun deteriorating the board's confidence, the report said.
In November, The Wall Street Journal reported that Kotick was well aware of many of the most high-profile workplace harassment and misconduct allegations, had committed misconduct himself and had engaged in covering up and concealing some incidents from investors and the board. As a result of the report, Xbox chief Phil Spencer began negotiating with Kotick about acquiring the company, the WSJ reported, a deal that Microsoft had explored in the past to tepid reception.
With the sale announced, Kotick will stay in charge through the transition period and officially reports to Spencer, but the report said Kotick is expected to leave the company after the deal closes.