Activision faces lawsuit over sale of Microsoft; Cameo cuts one-year staff to unicorn status
In today’s ExchangeWire news digest: Activision Blizzard faces legal action over allegations of underselling to Microsoft; Cameo is cutting a quarter of its workforce a year after the company was valued at US$1bn (£798m); and Binance gets the green light from French regulators, paving the way for the company in Europe.
Activision CEO sued for using Microsoft sale to ‘evade liability’
Video game holding company Activision Blizzard is being sued by various New York City employee pension and retirement funds. The group, which includes the New York City Employees Retirement System, the New York City Police Pension Fund and the New York City Teachers Retirement System, has all invested in Activision Blizzard and alleges that the company’s board intentionally undersold the game’s publisher to Microsoft for its own benefit and to escape potential liability.
The group places particular responsibility for this on Bobby Kotick, the company’s CEO, saying he was “aware of numerous credible allegations of misconduct by the company’s senior executives – but did nothing to address them. remedy or prevent further infringements”.
The lawsuit demands that Activision turn over a number of documents relating to Microsoft’s acquisition of the company earlier this year, in addition to information about the workplace issues and Kotick’s knowledge of them. The game publisher was confronted with several allegations of misconduct and harassment dating back to July 2021, including an SEC investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct, which the lawsuit says had a direct impact on Kotick’s negotiation of its sale to Microsoft. The group alleges that Kotick intentionally undersold the company to create an escape plan for himself and Activision’s directors, at the expense of its shareholders.
“Not only did the merger provide Kotick and his fellow directors with a means to escape liability for their gross breaches of fiduciary duty, but it also provided Kotick with the opportunity to realize substantial non-taxable benefits,” indicates the trial.
Activision responded to this new lawsuit, with a spokesperson told Polygon“We disagree with the allegations made in this complaint and look forward to presenting our case to the Court.”
Cameo lays off more than 80 employees a year after achieving unicorn status
US video-sharing platform Cameo has laid off 87 employees, CEO Steven Galanis has revealed. Taking to Twitter, Galanis shared, “Today was a brutal day at the office. I’ve made the painful decision to let go of 87 beloved Cameo Fameo members,” adding, “If you’re looking to hire hungry, humble, smart, kind, curious, learning machines who love to win — and you see Cameo on their resume – look no further.
First reported by Information from May 4the layoffs were deemed “painful but necessary” to “balance our costs with our cash reserves”, according to Galanis. TechCrunch Reports that a number of recently terminated employees said the entire organization was impacted by the layoffs, including the director of product, director of human resources, vice president of marketing and director of technology.
The layoffs come just a year after the company achieved unicorn status, reaching a valuation of over US$1bn (£798m) with funding from Google Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Kleiner Perkins. Cameo used to be a very lucrative platform, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, when lockdowns caused many creators and celebrities to turn to the platform for work. Speaking to Variety, Galanis said the platform had gross sales of US$100m (£79.8m) in 2020, a four and a half times increase on to the previous year.
Cameo’s sudden and severe downsizing reflects broader private sector cuts in the aftermath of the pandemic. Amazon aggregator Thrasio, which was valued at US$5bn (£3.9bn) in 2021, has also started laying off staff, while investment and savings firm Robinhood has revealed its intention to cut 9% of its workforce.
Binance expands to Europe after being approved in France
Binance has obtained regulatory approval to provide digital asset services in Franceallowing the company to operate for the first time in a European market.
The company, which is the world’s largest provider of crypto exchange services by volume, disclosed in a blog post published today (May 5) that it had obtained “the registration of Digital Asset Services Provider (DASP) with the Financial Markets Authority (AMF) with the approval of the Prudential Control and Resolution Authority (ACPR)”. Binance’s maiden voyage to Europe followed several regulatory setbacks for the company, including demands to focus on “anti-money laundering compliance” in France, and resistance from regulators in France. Germany and the UK.
To deal with this resistance, Binance has gone to great lengths to prove its commitment to complying with European legislation, in addition to cultivating a blockchain ecosystem in the region. In November 2021, the company pledged to invest €100 million (£84,220,000) to “support the development of the French and European blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem” and establish a R&D in France.
Founded in China in 2017, Binance pulled out of the region as Beijing’s crackdown on tech made cryptocurrency transactions illegal. While many Chinese crypto companies have since moved to Singapore, Binance is reportedly looking to establish a new headquarters. In December, the company announced its intention to close its operations in Singapore and withdraw its license application.
Also in the news:
– Adomik launches a new app for publishers to maximize their open auction revenue
– impact.com announces continued growth in the first quarter of 2022
– sgCarMart extends its strategic partnership with Teads
– Demand for high quality data continues to increase year on year in EMEA, says Lotame