Activision Blizzard suing Netflix for allegedly poaching CFO

By Patrick Dane
5 December 2020 09:57 GMT

Activision Blizzard is not pleased with the streaming service.

According to filed court documentation, Activision Blizzard is suing streaming giant Netflix for allegedly stealing one of the game company’s top executive.

In 2018, Activision’s chief financial officer Spencer Neumann left the company to join Netflix for the same role. The game publisher seems to be displeased with the way the streaming service handled to acquisition.

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In a suit filed yesterday (via Variety), Activision’s lawyers tore into Netflix’s handling of the hiring. It reads, “Netflix has demonstrated a pattern of caring only about attracting and employing whoever Netflix wants, regardless of whether it violates the law along the way.”

It further alleges, “Netflix’s unlawful conduct is not trailblazing or innovative — it is just reflective of Netflix’s contempt for the law of the State of California.”

Netflix has been sued twice before for similar behaviour by Fox and Viacom.

Complicating this further is that the alleged poaching came after the two companies had been negotiating a partnership at around the same time. The suit reads, “Making matters worse, Netflix engaged in its tortious conduct when Activision— with Neumann’s assistance—was negotiating with Netflix over a commercial partnership to distribute Activision’s linear media content.”

While never stated in the suit, this timeline would match up with reports that Activision and Netflix were exploring the idea of creating a Diablo show. The two have even produced content before too in the form of Skylanders Academy.

Activision is looking for a permanent injunction keeping Netflix “from soliciting Activision’s employees who are subject to valid fixed-term agreements or inducing such employees to breach their valid fixed-term employment agreements.”

Activision is also looking for compensation and punitive damages. Money, in normal terms.

This is not the first time the game publisher has gotten litigious over perceived poaching. Jason West and Vince Zampella, former heads of Infinity Ward, left the company and founded Respawn Entertainment with a distribution agreement with EA. Activision sued over it, but it was eventually settled out of court.

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