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Former Activision Boss Bobby Kotick Wants To Buy Tiktok: Report

Photo: Kevin Dietsch (Getty Images)
Photo: Kevin Dietsch (Getty Images)

TikTok is in an exceptionally tough spot these days. Despite everyone you know using it for hours on end, the video-sharing app is currently facing legislation that would force its ban in the U.S pending a potential sale, and prospective buyers are lining up. Regrettably, one of these buyers is reportedly Bobby Kotick, the former boss of Activision Blizzard, according to the Wall Street Journal.

TikTok has been scrutinized for years by U.S. lawmakers who have argued that its China-based parent company ByteDance may share data it collects with the Chinese government, or that the app could serve as a propaganda delivery tool. Despite tensions ramping up some time ago, leading many to believe that the app would be banned in the U.S., matters had seemingly cooled until a bill was pushed through the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week, ratcheting up the pressure on ByteDance. The bill is expected to be reviewed and approved by the House of Representatives this week before being sent to the Senate, and President Joe Biden has already claimed he would sign off on a ban if the bill made it through legislation.

The bill requires that ByteDance “divest itself” of TikTok or see the app banned in the U.S., which has led to renewed interest from potential buyers, including Kotick. Kotick, according to WSJ’s sources, has floated the idea of a buy to ByteDance’s co-founder and is reportedly looking for partners, which could include Sam Altman of OpenAI. According to the Wall Street Journal, “OpenAI could use TikTok to help train its AI models if a partner such as Kotick could raise the capital for such an acquisition.” TikTok’s sale has been estimated to be in the range of “hundreds of billions of dollars.”

Kotick departed from Activision Blizzard late last year after completing the publisher’s $68 billion sale to Microsoft. Kotick’s tenure at Activision Blizzard spanned decades and came under fire in 2021, when the state of California filed a lawsuit following an investigation into the company’s misogynistic workplace culture, as well as allegations of rampant sexual misconduct and discrimination. California’s Civil Rights Department settled with Activision Blizzard in December 2023 for $54 million.

According to a report from WSJ at the time, Kotick knew about everything happening under him and refused to address it. Activision Blizzard denied any wrongdoing in the aforementioned CRD case and the settlement included a statement that, according to GamesIndusry.biz, “no court or independent investigation has substantiated any of the claims.” Microsoft went through with the purchase last year and Kotick was allowed to depart with a golden parachute estimated to be worth around $15 million.

Updated: 04/01/2024, 2:00 p.m. ET: This article has been updated to include details of the CRD settlement, that Activision Blizzard denied any wrongdoing, and the settlement confirms CRD could not substantiate those claims.

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