Bernie Sanders and Other Senators Concerned About Xbox’s Activision Blizzard Deal

Bernie Sanders and three other US senators have raised concerns about Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

“We are deeply concerned about consolidation in the tech industry and its impact on workers,” wrote Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker and Sheldon Whitehouse, according to the Wall Street Journal.

According to a letter sent to the FTC (which you can see in the tweet below), senators are concerned that the acquisition could overshadow the problems faced by Activision Blizzard employees or make them more difficult to solve.

“Activision Blizzard workers, after years of rampant gender misconduct and discrimination and unfair labor practices, have called for greater transparency and accountability in the gaming industry, and we are deeply concerned about the fact that this acquisition could further disenfranchise these workers and prevent their voice from being heard,” the senators’ letter read.

“As this proposed agreement moves forward through the review process, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should assess whether the ways in which these companies have failed to protect the rights and dignity of their workers are motivated by the power of monopsony or constitute anti-competitive harm in our labor market, and if so, whether the merger will exacerbate these problems.”

Activision Blizzard has been the subject of numerous accusations of sexual harassment and “frat boy culture”.

The company recently settled one of many pending lawsuits, creating an $18 million fund to compensate eligible plaintiffs, as well as continue to improve policies, practices and training to prevent harassment and discrimination on workplace, not forgetting to hire a third party. EEOC Certified Equal Employment Opportunity Consultant.

A spokesperson for Activision Blizzard released the following statement regarding the Senators’ letter to Windows Central:

“The company is committed to providing a safe and fair working environment for all its employees and has invested significant resources to ensure that we create a model for the industry. The transaction between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard will not interrupt any of the actions that the Activision Blizzard leadership team has implemented throughout 2021 and continues to implement in 2022 with respect to improving our place. of work. Activision Blizzard’s leadership team discussed corporate goals extensively with Microsoft, and Microsoft reviewed the renewed commitment to culture and actions that Activision Blizzard has undertaken thus far, as well as the efforts they have undertaken. Microsoft supports the goals and the work done. This is a compelling transaction for all stakeholders, including employees. »

Senators are also said to be concerned that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick could dodge responsibility in the wake of the ongoing scandal and could be eligible for a massive payout if he improves the company’s culture at the time. following these accusations.

“This lack of accountability, despite shareholders, employees and the public calling for Kotick to be held accountable for the culture it has created, would be an unacceptable outcome of Microsoft’s proposed acquisition.”

It has been reported that Kotick will leave the company once the Microsoft acquisition is finalized.

“No additional special compensation arrangements for Mr. Kotick have been entered into as part of the transaction,” Activision Blizzard confirmed. “Mr. Kotick’s base salary has been reduced to California’s minimum annual salary (which is approximately $62,500 for 2022), and he will not receive bonuses or stock grants until the accountability committee Activision Blizzard’s Board of Directors has not determined that Activision Blizzard has made appropriate progress toward achieving the gender transformation goals and other commitments outlined in this announcement.

Microsoft plans to pay $68.7 billion to acquire Activision Blizzard, and while big mergers are subject to FTC scrutiny due to antitrust concerns, that extra scrutiny from U.S. senators is a bit of a fly in the ointment. .

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella believes the acquisition will still be approved: “Even after this acquisition, we’ll be number three with some kind of weak teenagers. [market] share, where even the best player is also [in the] teens [for market] to share. This shows how fragmented content creation platforms are. And so, this is the fundamental category. Yes, we will be an important player in what is a very fragmented place. »

If you want to know more about the Activision Blizzard lawsuit, check out our timeline of everything that’s happened so far.

Ryan Leston is an entertainment reporter and film critic for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.

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