A top Activision Blizzard executive accused of enabling sexual misconduct is leaving the company amid employee protests.
J. Allen Brack — who heads the Blizzard division that’s responsible for “World of Warcraft” and “Overwatch” — is leaving the company immediately to “pursue new opportunities,” Activision Blizzard said Tuesday.
Brack was singled out by name in a lawsuit that the state of California filed against Blizzard last month, accusing the company of fostering a “frat bro” culture full of sexual harassment, rape jokes and groping that even drove one female employee to suicide.
Brack, who had been at Blizzard for 15 years, was aware of sexual misconduct and even helped enable it, according to the California suit.
Last week, Activision Blizzard employees walked out from work in solidarity with harassment victims and slammed the company’s initially dismissive response to the suit as “abhorrent and insulting,” prompting CEO Bobby Kotick to apologize for being “tone deaf.”
Activision Blizzard stock was down more than 5.5 percent late Tuesday morning, according to MarketWatch data. The news comes ahead of this evening’s Activision Blizzard second quarter earnings release and investor call, during which CEO Bobby Kotick and other executives will almost certainly be grilled about the company’s response to the sexual harassment suit.
Brack will be replaced by two Blizzard veterans, Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, who will work as “co-leaders,” the company said.
“I am confident that Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will provide the leadership Blizzard needs to realize its full potential and will accelerate the pace of change,” Brack said in a statement that Blizzard posted to its website. “I anticipate they will do so with passion and enthusiasm and that they can be trusted to lead with the highest levels of integrity and commitment to the components of our culture that make Blizzard so special.”
Brack’s departure may help placate some critical Activision Blizzard employees, but he is not the only one of the company’s executives who is in hot water.
Executive Vice President Fran Townsend — who sent out an internal email last month blasting the allegations in the California suit as “distorted and untrue,” helping to spark last week’s employee walkout — once again angered employees on Friday by tweeting an Atlantic article about “the problem with whistleblowing.”
When Activision Blizzard employees responded critically to Townsend, she blocked them, according to Kotaku.