Nov 30, 2021 - Technology

Activision Blizzard walkout organizer resigns

Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Jessica Gonzalez, a senior test analyst at Activision Blizzard who has been instrumental in employees' collective action efforts, is resigning from the company.

Driving the news: Gonzalez, who's been with the company for over two years, announced her resignation internally and via Twitter on Tuesday, noting that her last day will be Dec. 10: "I have made the decision to leave Blizzard by putting my wellbeing first," she wrote.

  • "I regret that I couldn't meet my colleagues under better circumstances, but I take our shared vision for diversity, equity, inclusion, and workers' rights with me and value the work that we've done during my time here," she wrote.
  • "I believe with enough education and awareness ABK can be a great place to be. There's lots of work to do still and I am mentally wounded from this fight. It's been a long and exhausting road for change, but it isn't over."

In a message specifically addressed to CEO Bobby Kotick, Gonzalez says he had "years to fix the culture."

  • "Your inaction and refusal to take accountability is driving out great talent and the products will suffer until you are removed from your position as CEO."
  • Activision Blizzard did not respond to a request for comment.

Catch up: A Better ABK, a group of employees working to unionize, staged a walkout — their second in roughly five months — on Nov. 16, following a Wall Street Journal report that Kotick was aware of sexual misconduct at the company, despite claims to the contrary.

  • "It's almost as if they're begging us to unionize," an Activision Blizzard employee told Axios after the walkout.
  • Industry figures like Xbox's Phil Spencer and PlayStation's Jim Ryan have been critical of Activision Blizzard leadership's handling of its widespread problems, while others have called for Kotick's resignation.
  • Activision Blizzard's board of directors, however, has stood by Kotick, saying they remain "confident in Bobby Kotick's leadership, commitment and ability to achieve these goals.”
  • An open letter from employees currently has more than 1,850 signatures calling for Kotick to step down. Gonzalez is the second name on that petition.
  • Notably, the November walkout came together in a matter of hours, as opposed to the longer planning period the first required in July. In conversations with Axios, employees have credited that speed to Gonzalez.

The big picture: Gonzalez has been a vocal critic of Activision Blizzard's handling of its ongoing harassment and misconduct scandal, as well as an important internal advocate for change.

  • Gonzalez spearheaded efforts for the most recent walkout and was heavily involved in organizing the first. One employee told Axios that she gave "a voice" to tensions within the company: "She gave it the push it needed to become what is now going on with A Better ABK."
  • Senior engineer Valentine Powell has worked with Gonzalez over her time there to improve work conditions. They told Axios that the company is "losing a pillar of culture" at the company.
  • "Her efforts have rippled out and encouraged others to stand up and speak out about their own lives and experiences," they said, pointing to her advocacy on topics such as accessibility changes and improved hiring practices.
  • "She has been a constant voice for her whole time at ABK, pushing to see life get better for marginalized groups in all of our companies," Powell said.

What's next: Gonzalez told Axios that organization efforts within the company "are still going strong and I will still be supporting ABK workers in organizing."

  • "The group is more than her, but she was the spark that started the explosion," one employee told Axios.
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