J. Allen Brack is stepping down as president of Blizzard Entertainment, as the company continues to weather the storms of a discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit and general employee dissatisfaction at the responses of executives to these allegations. He will be replaced by Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra as co-leaders.
Since January, Oneal has been the executive vice president of development to oversee and support the Diablo and Overwatch. Ybarra joined Blizzard from Xbox in 2019, and has overseen the growth of Battle.net as executive VP and GM of platform and technology.
Both leaders are deeply committed to all of our employees; to the work ahead to ensure Blizzard is the safest, most welcoming workplace possible for women, and people of any gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or background; to upholding and reinforcing our values; and to rebuilding your trust. With their many years of industry experience and deep commitment to integrity and inclusivity, Jen and Mike will lead Blizzard with care, compassion, and a dedication to excellence. You’ll hear more from Jen and Mike soon.
Brack has departed Blizzard under a cloud, with the company and sister company Activision being taken to task with a lawsuit by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Shortly afterwards, J. Allen Brack called the allegations “extremely troubling”, saying that “I disdain ‘bro culture’ and have spent my career fighting against it” in an internal email. However, a video quickly emerged from a Blizzcon 2010 panel where he was amongst a group of senior developers laughing at the idea of making Blizzard’s women characters less hypersexualized.
In response to the executive reaction to the lawsuit, thousands of Activision employees signed an open letter to the company and held a one day walk out and called on their leadership teams to adopt new policies to “empower a company-wide diversity, equity, & inclusion”. The event, named the Activision Blizzard Walkout for Equality.
Activision’s executives have responded minimally to the letter and walkout, but has hired WilmerHale to review its HR policies. That might sound good… right up until you learn that WilmerHale helped Amazon illegally disrupt the employee vote on unionisation held at one of its facilities earlier this year.