Business Expert, CEO

Bobby Kotick Building Activision Blizzard

Even in gaming, some CEOs are more potent than others. And it’s hard to overstate just what country Bobby Kotick has built. Activision Blizzard, which Kotick has led as CEO, is the world’s most profitable game-maker. The company is the embodiment of Kotick’s philosophy.

Bobby Kotick has made a name for himself in the often-silly business of video games with a series of controversial corporate moves. He has ruffled the feathers of employees, game makers, and Wall Street alike by taking a hardline stance on costs and pushing his company to turn in blockbuster hits.

While other game companies have spent money on quality control or hired creative talent as an end unto itself, Kotick prefers to spend as little as possible. And just as often, Kotick has turned the gaming industry upside-down.

Kotick succeeded in building a behemoth mainly on his terms. He came to the industry as a software developer, and he still plays his games. His first job at Microsoft was writing an operating system for its new computers, and it was also at Microsoft where he learned how to manage large teams of workers.

That experience led to Kotick’s first foray into the gaming industry when he founded Microprose. Kotick started with a small team to build games for IBM PCs. By the time he was 28, Kotick had sold Microprose to Spectrum Holobyte.

Kotick then bought his way into the industry, buying Steve Wynn’s stake in Activision. At the time, Activision was focused on making games for consoles like the Atari 2600 and Intellivision. Kotick used his fortune from Microprose to change Activision’s focus toward PC gaming.

The first 15 years of Activision’s existence were a roller coaster ride. The company struggled to adapt to shifting market conditions and released flops that sent it reeling on a downward spiral. But when key staff left Activision, Kotick took advantage of a rare opportunity to radically restructure the company.