Activision's Bobby Kotick and EA's Andrew Wilson among most overpaid CEOs in US

Latest study shows the two chief execs earn more than 300 times the average wage of their employees

A new report shows that the heads of Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts are among the United States' most overpaid CEOs.

As You Sow, a non-profit foundation whose mission is to promote corporate social responsibility, carries out an annual analysis into how much chief execs are paid and calculate how many are arguably overpaid.

This is estimated by taking into account their salary, the ratio between this and the average worker at their firm, plus factors like shareholder votes for the CEO's pay package and total shareholder return.

Using this methodology, Activision's Bobby Kotick is the most overpaid CEO in the US games industry. His salary was reported as $28,698,375 -- 306 times more than the average Activision staff member. With 92% of shareholder votes for this package, As You Sow believes this to be an excess payment of $12,835,277.

Meanwhile, EA CEO Andrew Wilson was estimated to be paid an excess of $19,673,861, with his salary at $35,728,764. There were 97% of shareholders votes for this package (An EA spokesperson has since told us this should be 86%), and it stands at 371 times more than the average EA employee's pay packet.

For comparison, the average CEO to worker ratio at S&P 500 companies, the largest 500 companies in the US, is 142:1.

Kotick and Wilson stand alongside overpaid CEOs from Disney, Netflix, Mattel, 20th Century Fox, McDonald's and more, ranked at No.45 and No.98 repsectively. You can find more details in the full report.

The news follows significant layoffs at both exec's companies. Last week, it was revealed EA was putting multiple positions at its Australian studio FireMonkeys into consultation. Meanwhile, Activision Blizzard announced it was making around 800 people redundant after its financial results -- despite enjoying a record year.

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Latest comments (4)

Valentin Merzlikin Business development / Strategy 3 years ago
When I sorted the table by the "Votes to approve CEO pay" column, I found that Wilson is on the 1st line, and 97% of stockholders have approved this package.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Valentin Merzlikin on 25th February 2019 1:06pm

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Edward Buffery Head of LQA (UK), Testronic3 years ago
*whispers quietly*
When do we get to eat them?
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Nicholas Lovell Founder, Gamesbrief3 years ago
The same is true for Bobby Kotick. In both cases, their compensation got more than 90% of shareholder votes.
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Benjamin Solheim Sole Shareholder, ESPN3 years ago
So Activision Blizzard had their own publicly traded corporation and got bought out over hiring practices and the employees had to buy the stock from anyone selling it to gain control.

Bobby Kotick was the CEO when the employees found out if they wanted their to be video game company in a year or they had to buy up all the shares. if you saw a list of the shareholders by percentage the odds are really good that Bobby Kotick has most of the shares and instead of selling those for profit he is likely being paid in a mix of stock options meaning the ability to buy stock with activisionʻs budget and then buy them at discount from the corporation. So some of it likely he is acting as an owner and voting up his own paycheck, which raises some questions for the shareholders, yet the question are the games appealing to the people spending money that results in positive revenue? The ratio of CEO pay to employee is going to be an issue across the entire stock exchange board until the country fixes the assumption that minimum wage actually covers peopleʻs bills, and the MBA that move the cost of living up over the increases money payed out below sixty thousand dollar a year. Good econ people focus on many quality things at cost plus overhead minus flex.

In normal words the material cost plus some part of the over head cost, that keeps the items selling in large enough numbers to cover the cost plus profit because a million thing sold at cost plus 2 cents is still 2 million dollar minus over head and the same time if instead it is a thousand thing sold at cost plus 10 dollars is 1,000 cents per item or 1 million minus overhead. no matter how much over head is 2 million is still larger than 1 million.

people need to be paid enough to actually cover their bills, meaning their housing, their food, their car, their insurance cost, their heating and cooling, a same entertainment budget, plus twenty percent of their bills not some nominal number that is lower than half of what the actual bills usually are. Too many people forget that in the nineteen eighty people made two dollars and hour as a good wage and restaurant help made two dollars and hour plus tips. Now they pay taxes on the two dollars and hour and on their tips, while people struggle to survive on fifteen dollars and hour. Why do you think that is?

At current costs the bottom of society should be making at least forty eight thousand dollars a year in order to pay their bills. People who put in a forty hour week that is not mostly checking email and avoiding work all morning to only try to rush through it after lunch and then sit in traffic on the way home for two hours, should be making at the cost costs for 2019 one hundred and nine thousand dollars a year. As far as I know construction workers, particularly architect and stone masons make that much or more, I made $280.00USD and hour in Florida as an architect , so I know those numbers are high enough, programmers tend to make about eighty thousand a year to the sky is the limit at the internet engineer level of trouble shooting wan servers. It is skilled work and if it not done people stop paying for the services making replacing bad equipment very hard to do without the income for the services. The issue is most people make between ten to fifteen dollars and hour and hate the through of milestone based compensation because it means that they would enjoy going to work, working hard through the morning taking a leisurely lunch and going home early or working a little bit later to avoid rush hour and only working four days a week and still making more money. I know flex time works. I know the breaks where people actual take them instead of working through them make more productive employees yet half the corporations try to devalue their workers and force them to work inefficiently and fight other employees for raises. If peopleʻs bills are covered plus twenty percent you get loyal employees who are not fighting the other employees wage increases and they work a better team.

So while Disneyʻs employees are in a middle of an embezzlement scam to pay the shareholders of 21 century fox and stolen windfall for content that failed at the box office, that the SEC is investigating, I would say before you throw stones at ATVI maybe find out what the low end salary is at activision and what they do is? I know when I was paid as part of focus group working on double time rates even at ten dollars and hour I was making about sixty thousand take home, while one of the leads in charge of QA was making thirty five thousand dollars and hour under corp ownership. Matt was the QA lead in charge of the QA department out of the basement for ravensoft, infinity ward, and the rest of AVTI game studios. At the high point twenty people on day shift and fifteen on night shift. Total the focus group that was brought on had one hundred fifty people, which included the entire QA team. AVTI was going to fix that and hopefully they are not still paying people those numbers but if they are not then the ratio might not actually be accurate if the avg employee is making a living wage.

Mattel is a whole owned subsidy of toys r us, so those are likely stock owners trying to control their investments instead of letting a broker run them into the ground to make a quick profit gutting companies for IP and hard equity. McDonalads is a franchise where the people wanting to build a McDonald restaurant need to have the money to cover the franchising costs which means ten years employee wages in an none volatile saving account. They need ten years cost structure and if they want to expand they have to have twice the risk loss over the decade post expansion. I doubt they are over paid but their employees might be underpaid.

Yes I am biased about ATVI, in that I think they cared to their HR departments but I watched locheed martin attempt to hire a bunch of folks as designers even for 19 and hour as a web designer and their HR departed tried to publicly list a job for private corporation over production wants and needs, and the c level employees and shareholders. Those HR personal were not doing what was best for the company but anything to make money on the side devaluing the companies. My guess is that much like volt handing Disneyʻs pay roll the HR department assumed they could control anything. At least in some cases they fired those individuals for cause. Video game companies tend to avoid the bad press and when they follow the regulations they get hit for doing what might have been the better call to save nine thousand employees at the cost of eight hundred. Every time I hear people complaining about eight hundred fired I ask so was it seven hundred left at the company? Wait they have nine thousand employees in the same investor report, compared to most gaming companies that have less than two hundred full time employees. Someone has and angle and it is likely stock fraud.
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