Blizzard co-leader Jen Oneal leaps into escape pod after just three months in the role

Says she is not 'without hope' for biz


Jen Oneal is ending what has turned out to be a brief stint as co-lead of Blizzard.

“I want you to hear from me personally that I have made the decision to step away from co-leading Blizzard Entertainment and will transition to a new position before departing Activision Blizzard King at the end of the year,” she announced on Tuesday.

This means Blizzard will be solely led by Mike Ybarra. The publisher also agreed to give a $1m grant to the non-profit Women in Games, according to Oneal, who is a board member of the pro-diversity and pro-equality organization. "This money will be used to fund skill-building and mentorship programs," she said.

Oneal is the latest leading figure to eject from Activision Blizzard, which was accused of fostering a toxic internal culture rife with discrimination. Blizzard chief Allen Brack resigned in August to make way for Oneal and Ybarra to take over as co-leads. Head of global human resources Jesse Meschuk and chief legal officer Claire Hart also left.

This energy has inspired me to step out and explore how I can do more to have games and diversity intersect

"I am doing this not because I am without hope for Blizzard, quite the opposite – I’m inspired by the passion of everyone here, working towards meaningful, lasting change with their whole hearts," Oneal said in her exit memo.

"This energy has inspired me to step out and explore how I can do more to have games and diversity intersect, and hopefully make a broader industry impact that will benefit Blizzard (and other studios) as well. While I am not totally sure what form that will take, I am excited to embark on a new journey to find out."

Oneal is described as an Activision Blizzard veteran; she has held roles from executive veep of development to Vicarious Visions studio head.

The mega-publisher of top games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft has been hit with various bursts of legal action. In July, California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing accused execs of enabling a “frat boy culture” in which women were paid less than their male colleagues and staff were subjected to gender and racial discrimination.

Two months later, the SEC launched an investigation into the corporation and has subpoenaed several of Activision Blizzard’s current and former staff, including CEO Bobby Kotick. A group of employees working with the Communications Workers of America union filed a complaint with America's National Labor Relations Board, alleging management intimidated its workers speaking out against the company and illegally obstructed their attempts to form a union.

A spokesperson for the union told The Register that case was withdrawn, and its attorneys are working on refiling a fresh one.

Activision has taken all sorts of measures as it scrambles to fix its public image. It agreed to pay $18m to settle a previous discrimination case with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Kotick apologized for the harm caused by his company, promised to weed out any bad behavior and increase the percentage of women and non-binary people working at the publisher by 50 per cent. He also agreed to take a salary cut to $62,500 without any bonus pay and equity packages. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Meg Whitman – former HP and eBay CEO – nominated as US ambassador to Kenya

    Donated $110K to Democrats in recent years

    United States president Joe Biden has announced his intention to nominate former HPE and eBay CEO Meg Whitman as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Kenya.

    The Biden administration's announcement of the planned nomination reminds us that Whitman has served as CEO of eBay, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Quibi. Whitman also serves on the boards of Procter & Gamble, and General Motors.

    The announcement doesn't remind readers that Whitman has form as a Republican politician – she ran for governor of California in 2010, then backed the GOP's Mitt Romney in his 2008 and 2012 bids for the presidency. She later switched political allegiance and backed the presidential campaigns of both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

    Continue reading
  • Ex-Qualcomm Snapdragon chief turns CEO at AI chip startup MemryX

    Meet the new boss

    A former executive leading Qualcomm's Snapdragon computing platforms has departed the company to become CEO at an AI chip startup.

    Keith Kressin will lead product commercialization for MemryX, which was founded in 2019 and makes memory-intensive AI chiplets.

    The company is now out of stealth mode and will soon commercially ship its AI chips to non-tech customers. The company was testing early generations of its chips with industries including auto and robotics.

    Continue reading
  • Aircraft can't land safely due to interference with upcoming 5G C-band broadband service

    Expect flight delays and diversions, US Federal Aviation Administation warns

    The new 5G C-band wireless broadband service expected to rollout on 5 January 2022 in the US will disrupt local radio signals and make it difficult for airplanes to land safely in harsh weather conditions, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

    Pilots rely on radio altimeter readings to figure out when and where an aircraft should carry out a series of operations to prepare for touchdown. But the upcoming 5G C-band service beaming from cell towers threatens to interfere with these signals, the FAA warned in two reports.

    Flights may have to be delayed or restricted at certain airports as the new broadband service comes into effect next year. The change could affect some 6,834 airplanes and 1,828 helicopters. The cost to operators is expected to be $580,890.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021