Microsoft started acquisition talks with Activision Blizzard 3 days after harassment allegations surfaced

A hot potato: A day after a damning Wall Street Journal report accused him of hiding multiple rape and harassment allegations from the company board, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick received some good news: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wanted to speak with him about a possible acquisition.

On that same day, Xbox lead Phil Spencer penned an email to his staff in which he said that he was “disturbed and deeply troubled by the horrific events and actions” at Activision Blizzard. He said that he was evaluating “all aspects” of Xbox’s relationship with Activision Blizzard.

Two months later, Microsoft paid $68.7 billion for the company. It’s now managed as part of the Microsoft Gaming division, of which Spencer was appointed the CEO. Kotick, who has remained the CEO of Activision Blizzard, now reports directly to Spencer.

It’s been reported that Kotick might leave Activision Blizzard when Microsoft assumes administrative control. If so, he can sell his shares in the company to Microsoft for $95 each, in which case he will walk away with $410 million.

All these details, and shocking timeline, came to light on Friday when a filing with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) was made public.

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In the period between when the report was published and when Nadella indicated to Kotick that Microsoft wanted to purchase Activision Blizzard, the latter’s shares fell by $10. A week later, Spencer indicated to Kotick that Microsoft was looking to offer $80 a share; that was $20 more than the previous day’s close but not much more than shares cost a few weeks before.

Microsoft sought to close the deal quickly to secure a low price, but Kotick floated Activision Blizzard on the market. It garnered the attention of at least four other companies. One of them wanted just Blizzard, but the board of directors deemed that too complicated.

In the end, Microsoft outmaneuvered its competitors and closed the deal in record time. It remains to be seen if it will force Kotick out and if it will address the “frat boy” culture that continues to land Activision Blizzard in hot water.

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