Microsoft reorogs Xbox execs as it bids farewell to Activision CEO

by Kareem Anderson

Kareem Anderson

Kareem is a journalist from the bay area, now living in Florida. His passion for technology and content creation drives are unmatched, driving him to create well-researched articles… read more

Bobby Kotick - Activision CEO

Despite ongoing objections from the US Federal Trade Commission’s, Microsoft is plowing forward with its acquisition of Activision Blizzard and has begun its consolidation of executive bureaucracy starting with a farewell to ABK’s CEO Bobby Kotick.

In an internal memo reported on by The Verge, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer bids Kotick adieu while both thanking him for his “invaluable contributions to this industry,” and laying forth an upcoming reorg that beings to blend Microsoft executives among Activision duties while preserving much of ABK’s top brass.

Instead of sourcing a single Microsoft executive to become a one-for-one CEO replacement of Kotick at Activision, the company has dispersed the duties among ABK president and former Microsoft executive Mike Ybarra, Activision publishing president Rob Kostich, and ABK vice chair Thomas Tippl, who all now report to Microsoft Studios president Matt Booty for the time being.

Booty’s plate just became a bit fuller as he recently took on managing Microsoft’s other recently acquired studios Bethesda and ZeniMax.

Fortunately, soon Booty will be steering the Activision Blizzard King ship with tried-and-true upper management already established by the publisher as Microsoft has retained the previous executive order within the company.

However, some immediate notable shifts between Microsoft and Activision’s executive branch now include communications officer Lulu Meservy departing ABK alongside vice chairman Humam Sakhnini of Blizzard and King; both leaving in the next two months with a few other executives planning to sail off sometime in March 2024.

Among the ABK top brass that remains are chief admin officer Brian Bulatao, chief people officer Julie Hodge, CFO Armin Zerza, and chief legal officer Grant Dixton who all now report to their counterparts on the Microsoft Games business.

Ending the year on a reassuring note to lower-level employees concerned about layoffs and overlapping consolidations, Spencer also mentions that “for most of you, your day-to-day work will remain the same-it’s still business as usual in bringing more groundbreaking experiences to more players around the world.”

Earlier today, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick formally announced that Friday December 29th, 2023, will be his last day at Microsoft Gaming. Under Bobby’s watch, Activision Blizzard in its many incarnations has been an enduring pillar of video games. Whether it’s Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Candy Crush Saga or any number of other titles, his teams have created beloved franchises and entertained hundreds of millions of players for decades. I’d like to thank Bobby—for his invaluable contributions to this industry, his partnership in closing the Activision Blizzard acquisition and his collaboration following the close—and I wish him and his family the very best in his next chapter.

With Bobby’s impending departure, we are taking the next step in aligning Activision Blizzard with Microsoft Gaming, by making the following organizational changes:

Thomas Tippl (Vice Chairman, Activision Blizzard), Rob Kostich (President, Activision Publishing), Mike Ybarra (President, Blizzard Entertainment) and Tjodolf Sommestad (President, King) will report to Matt Booty (President, Game Content and Studios). The leadership teams for Activision Publishing, Blizzard and King will remain in place, with no changes to the structure of how the studios and business units are run.

Brian Bulatao (Chief Administrative Officer) will report to Dave McCarthy (Chief Operations Officer, Microsoft Gaming).

Julie Hodges (Chief People Officer) will report to Cynthia Per-Lee (Corporate Vice President, Gaming Human Resources).

Grant Dixton (Chief Legal Officer) will report to Linda Norman (Corporate Vice President, Gaming CELA).

Armin Zerza (Chief Financial Officer) will continue to report to Tim Stuart (Corporate Vice President, Finance), as we previously announced to the Finance team in October.

Thomas, Brian, Julie, Grant and Armin will continue to help us with the transition through March 2024.

Lulu Meservey (Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Chief Communications Officer) will be leaving ABK at the end of January. She has agreed to support Kari Perez (General Manager, Communications) on a leadership transition plan for the ABK Communications team, which will report to Kari. Additionally, Humam Sakhnini (Vice Chairman, Blizzard and King) will depart at the end of December. We thank Humam and Lulu for their leadership over the past year.

For most of you, your day-to-day work will remain the same—it’s still business as usual in bringing more groundbreaking experiences to more players around the world. At the leadership level, these changes will provide the clarity and accountability that is necessary to achieve our ambitious goals and foster a culture that is welcoming, empowering, and committed to Gaming for Everyone. We have an exciting 2024 lineup of games across Activision, Bethesda, Blizzard, King, and Xbox Game Studios, and I know that we all look forward to sharing more details with our player communities when the time is right.


Kotick’s departure from Activision following Microsoft’s successful acquisition of the company was expected by many in the industry. At the start of the regulatory gauntlet, the phrase “Golden Parachute” accompanied Kotick’s name in stories speculating what would become of the embattled CEO facing both personal and corporate harassment cases that initially led to an opportunity for Microsoft to pitch its bid for the game publisher.

What becomes of Kotick beyond his departure from Activision is unknown, but now in full control of ABK, Microsoft is promising an “exciting 2024 lineup of games across Activision, Bethesda, Blizzard, King and Xbox Studios.”

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