Big news this afternoon as the fallout begins following the DFEH lawsuit which highlighted cases of sexual harassment and a “frat boy” culture at Activision Blizzard.
Blizzard President J. Allen Brack is to step down from his position with Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra jointly stepping in at the top of the company. A statement to the community was released:
We want to let you know about an important leadership change at Blizzard Entertainment.
Starting today, J. Allen Brack will be stepping down as the leader of the studio, and Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will co-lead Blizzard moving forward.
Jen joined Blizzard in January as executive vice president of development, where she’s been providing senior development leadership and support to the Diablo and Overwatch franchises. Jen is the former head of Vicarious Visions (which is now part of Blizzard Entertainment).
After many years at XBOX, Mike joined the company in 2019 as the executive vice president and general manager of platform and technology, where he’s been overseeing the evolution of Battle.net and our development services organization.
Jen and Mike have more than three decades of gaming industry experience between them. Moving forward, they will share responsibilities over game development and company operations.
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.
The following is a message from J. Allen Brack:
“I am confident that Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will provide the leadership Blizzard needs to realize its full potential and will accelerate the pace of change. I anticipate they will do so with passion and enthusiasm and that they can be trusted to lead with the highest levels of integrity and commitment to the components of our culture that make Blizzard so special.”
Finally, thank you all for being a part of the Blizzard community, and for your passion and determination for safety and equality for all.
An update on the Activision Blizzard investor page also highlights the changes.
Many of us already know Mike and Jen and have experienced their leadership, their empathy and their unwavering sense of accountability:
- Jen is an 18-year company veteran and the former head of Vicarious Visions studio. As Executive Vice President of Development at Blizzard, she has been providing senior development leadership and support to the Diablo and Overwatch franchises.
- Mike has been in the technology and gaming industries for over 20 years, including 7 years as a senior executive at Microsoft’s XBOX division. Most recently Mike was Executive Vice President & General Manager of Platform and Technology at Blizzard overseeing Battle.net and our Development Services organizations.
With their many years of industry experience and deep commitment to integrity and inclusivity, I am certain Jen and Mike will lead Blizzard with care, compassion and a dedication to excellence.
With Jen and Mike assuming their new roles, J. Allen Brack is leaving the company to pursue new opportunities.
It’s not clear if Brack was asked to leave the company or he decided his position was not tenable follow the lawsuit and comments from staff in recent weeks.
Hopefully, now Blizzard will move forward and the culture at the company can change for the better. It has to start at the top and the departure of the Blizzard President indicates they are looking for some real change.