Activision Blizzard Set To Fire Its CFO After Rocky 2018

Some new years begin with champagne and fireworks, others begin with termination of employment. Activision Blizzard announced that they plan to fire their Chief Financial Officer Spencer Neumann for undisclosed reasons. The announcement comes on the heels of a rather rocky financial year for Blizzard.

Neumann has been placed on paid leave and will receive the opportunity to argue against his termination. Starting today, Chief Corporate Officer (CCO) Dennis Durkin will assume Neumann’s responsibilities and will fully take over the position once Neumann is fired. Blizzard claims that Neumann’s termination is “unrelated to the company's financial reporting or disclosure controls and procedures.”

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Neumann appears to be stuck in some sort of employment limbo. Netflix is expected to announce in the next few days that Neumann will replace their current CFO David Wells. Wells worked for the company for over fourteen years. He announced this past summer that he would step down from his position once his replacement had been found. Some argue that Netflix has “poached” Neumann from Blizzard.

Neumann is not the only employee who is leaving Blizzard. The company has reportedly been offering incentives to convince some of their customer service employees to voluntarily quit their positions. A number of anonymous sources claim that employees were offered up to a year’s pay.

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Blizzard’s stocks dropped by 26% over the course of 2018. One particularly precipitous drop followed the Diablo Immortal debacle this past November. Blizzard announced at BlizzCon that they would be releasing a new mobile game called Diablo Immortal. The Diablo team was booed during the announcement and responded with the now infamous statement, “Do you guys not have phones?” Blizzard’s stocks almost immediately dropped by 7% after the event. Research firm Cowen & Company argued, “Blizzard severely miscalculated how their fans would respond, which suggests they aren't in touch with their players as maybe they should be."

Although Netflix did not experience a phenomenal year, their year certainly ended better than Blizzard’s. Their stock teeter-tottered throughout 2018, but tended to make small gains whenever they disclosed their number of subscribers. Both Netflix’s and Blizzard’s stocks tend to rely on their user base. Netflix gained nearly 20 million subscribers in the last year, while Blizzard has reported a decline in monthly active users. It will be interesting to see how Neumann’s departure from Blizzard and commencement at Netflix will affect both companies.