Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick Talks Microsoft Acquisition

In 1983, in a college dorm room, Bobby Kotick launched a tech company that would eventually grow into Activision. He’s been the company’s CEO since the beginning and in 2008 guided the merger of Activision and Vivendi Games, which became Activision Blizzard. Now, he’s leading the American video game holding company into the future as Microsoft is acquiring it in a $68.7 billion deal. While this news may have taken many in the industry by surprise, Kotick says he’s been in talks with Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, and Phil Spencer, the CEO of Gaming at Microsoft, for years about “bigger things we could do together.” 

Putting Together the Industry’s Top Talent

When it comes to the future of artificial intelligence (AI), Bobby Kotick is aware of the increased competition. “[It’s] between Tencent, and NetEase, and Sony, and now you have Google, and Amazon, and Apple, and Facebook, and Microsoft, and Netflix. We were looking at the course of the next couple of years and starting to realize we need thousands of people to execute our production plans. We need them in disciplines like AI and machine learning, and in data analytics, and in purpose-built cloud and cybersecurity — and we just don’t have it. And competition for the talent is expensive and really hard to come by,” says the Activision Blizzard CEO. “And so, we’re starting to think about all these skills that we need, that we don’t have and that are really necessary, we realized we should be thinking about ways to get that talent. This was an acknowledgment and recognition.” 

Microsoft Games CEO Phil Spencer Reached Out at the Right Time

According to Bobby Kotick, “When Phil called, it happened to be at a time where we were getting ready to start our long-range planning process and realizing that these were going to be issues and challenges. We had the discussion. Phil and I knew each other well, and we have a great relationship, and the company has a great relationship. And when you start to think about all the skills we need, all the resources we need, and what they have, it made a lot of sense.” 

An Offer Blizzard Activision’s Bobby Kotick Couldn’t Refuse

Kotick explains, “When they originally called, we said we’d think about it, and then they made this offer that was incredibly attractive at a 45% premium over the stock price. And I think it just made a lot of sense. The more we spent the time talking about how it would work and what would happen, what resources were available, they clearly were the best partner.” 

Bobby Kotick Discusses Microsoft’s Interest in Activision Blizzard’s King

King, the Malta-based video game developer and publisher that operates as its own entity under Activision Blizzard, appealed to Microsoft. “With Microsoft, most of the content they create has nothing to do with gaming,” says Bobby Kotick. “They’re on every device with a microprocessor and a display. And I think they have no mobile business. So for them, King was a very complementary thing. But we all realize that gaming over the next five years is going to be more on phones than on any other devices. And I think they’ve given us repeated assurances that our content will be available on as many devices as possible.”