Microsoft set to acquire the gaming company Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Tech giant Microsoft announced today it plans to acquire Activision Blizzard. That's the huge gaming company behind such franchises as Call of Duty, Warcraft and Candy Crush. The price tag - nearly 70 billion. But as NPR's Andrew Limbong reports, the sale is not without its baggage.
ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: Activision Blizzard has been in the news a lot recently and not for its games. In July, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit alleging that the company's so-called frat boy culture led to women getting harassed and discriminated against at the company. Then the Securities and Exchange Commission opened its investigation into the company for its handling of sexual harassment and discrimination allegations. Then The Wall Street Journal reported that company CEO Bobby Kotick knew about alleged sexual misconduct within the company for years and didn't inform the board about it. Here's Journal reporter Kirsten Grind on NPR back in November, summing up the company's reputation.
KIRSTEN GRIND: That involved a lot of drinking, women not comfortable being at work, just a lot of allegations of Activision being not a good place to work.
LIMBONG: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella seems to allude to these recent reports in a call to investors this morning, stressing the importance of culture at Microsoft.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
SATYA NADELLA: We must continuously improve the lived experience of our employees and create an environment that allows us to constantly drive everyday improvement in our culture.
LIMBONG: So what's the company getting for nearly $70 billion? While Microsoft has its own gaming arm, it'll gain big-name franchises, Warcraft, Overwatch, Call of Duty. There's mobile games like Candy Crush...
BRAD REBACK: Which really gives Microsoft a foothold in that segment of the market that they've never had.
LIMBONG: That's Brad Reback, software equity research analyst for Stifel. As for Activision Blizzard's workplace troubles...
REBACK: I think they can bring a corporate overlay and an HR overlay to really settle things down at Activision and get people back to what they do best, which is creating first-class games.
LIMBONG: According to the press release, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick will stick around until leadership transitions to Microsoft's gaming chief. Andrew Limbong, NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.