Blizzard Executive Steps Down After Worker Protests Over  'Frat Boy' Culture

Sarah Favot

Favot is an award-winning journalist and adjunct instructor at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She previously was an investigative and data reporter at national education news site The 74 and local news site LA School Report. She's also worked at the Los Angeles Daily News. She was a Livingston Award finalist in 2011 and holds a Master's degree in journalism from Boston University and BA from the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada.

Blizzard Executive Steps Down After Worker Protests Over  'Frat Boy' Culture

Video game-maker Activision Blizzard said Tuesday that Blizzard president J. Allen Brack is stepping down. The move comes days after California filed a lawsuit against the company over allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination and income disparity against women employees and employees staged a walkout.


The lawsuit, filed on July 20 by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, alleges Activision fostered a pervasive "frat boy" workplace culture where women were subject to constant sexual harassment, lower pay and retaliation.

Two Blizzard executives — Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra — will replace Brack and will be co-leaders of the company, according to a statement.

Blizzard president J. Allen Brack

"Both are leaders of great character and integrity and are deeply committed to ensuring our workplace is the most inspired, welcoming environment for creative excellence and to upholding our highest game development standards," the statement from Activision Blizzard President and COO Daniel Alegre said.

Brack is leaving the Santa Monica-based company "to pursue new opportunities," the statement said.

The lawsuit alleges women were subjected to "cube crawls" where male employees drink "copious" amounts of alcohol and crawl to various cubicles in the office and "often engage in inappropriate behavior toward female employees," including groping them.

At the time the lawsuit was filed, Activision Blizzard released a statement in response, accusing the state agency that filed the lawsuit of using distorted and false descriptions.

Hundreds of its employees staged a walkout last week to protest the company's toxic workplace culture. Gamers also reacted, calling for a day-long boycott of the company's titles, which include "Call of Duty," "World of Warcraft" and "Overwatch."

The company's initial response, it later admitted, was "tone deaf," but infuriated employees and organizers said it galvanized the workers.

The action comes as the largely white, male tech and gaming industry is facing a reckoning over its lack of diversity.

The Communications Workers of America is behind the Campaign to Organize Digital Employees, which is aimed at unionizing tech and gaming companies and helping workers push back on issues like poor workplace culture. CWA organizer Emma Kinema told dot.LA she wasn't surprised by the allegations in the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, saying this type of discriminatory culture is "pervasive."

Oneal was the executive vice president of development, while Ybarra was executive vice president and general manager of platform and technology.

"With their many years of industry experience and deep commitment to integrity and inclusivity, I am certain Jen and Mike will lead Blizzard with care, compassion and a dedication to excellence," Alegre wrote.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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LA Tech ‘Moves’: HyperDraft Taps LegalZoom Exec

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

LA Tech ‘Moves’: HyperDraft Taps LegalZoom Exec
Photo by James Opas | Modified by Joshua Letona

“Moves,” our roundup of job changes in L.A. tech, is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here—and if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing Sharmineh O’Farrill Lewis (sharmineh@dot.la). Please send job changes and personnel moves to moves@dot.la.

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