Microsoft employees fear Activision deal could worsen the companys own toxic culture

Some Microsoft employees fear that the company’s pending $68 billion deal to acquire Activision Blizzard will worsen its own toxic work culture, which has been described as largely unresolved. 

A lengthy (paywalled) report from Insider (opens in new tab) cites multiple Microsoft employees who discuss “untouchable” “golden boy” executives accused of perpetuating a culture of tolerated misconduct. Mixed reality and AI frontrunner Alex Kipman, former executive Terry Myerson, and corporate vice president Tom Keane are all mentioned by name. 

Kipman, specifically, is accused of watching VR porn in the office several years ago, requiring HR “chaperones” at meetings (which, as Windows Central (opens in new tab) reports, Microsoft has denied), and rubbing a female employee’s shoulders despite her appearing “deeply uncomfortable.”  

The report includes multiple statements from employees who worry that acquiring Activision Blizzard – which has become embroiled in multiple lawsuits, investigations, and scandals since a California office filed a lawsuit against the company in 2021 alleging a toxic and sexist culture – will exacerbate these issues and potentially allow more bad actors into the company.  

Insider reports that, when the deal was first announced, CEO Satya Nadella was called out on an internal message board for “continuous silence” on years of reports regarding sexual harassment and discrimination. 

“We can’t even take care of our own house,” one employee said. “And now we just bought one in worse condition.” 

“I’m really disappointed that we didn’t hear from Satya what his plans are to make sure that the awful culture that has taken root in Activision Blizzard won’t fester and spread within Microsoft,” another employee said of the pending acquisition. “I personally would never entertain the idea of working for/with Blizzard or Activision for my own safety and welfare as a female engineer. I hope we hear concrete steps to make sure we aren’t introducing a dangerous and unwelcome culture.” 

Another employee touched on the role of Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, who has been accused of shielding Activision executives from sexual harassment claims and was recently named in a New York City lawsuit alleging that the Microsoft deal allowed executives to “escape accountability,” and his unconfirmed post-deal departure. “From experience, I know that toxic culture at Microsoft doesn’t just disappear when a toxic person disappears,” they said. 

Microsoft president Brad Smith recently affirmed that the Activision deal is “moving fast.”

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