Why Activision CEO Bobby Kotick Thanks Steve Jobs for His Success

Why Activision CEO Bobby Kotick Thanks Steve Jobs for His Success

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick’s career in the video game industry started while he was in college. It all began during his first year at the University of Michigan, where he was an art history major. “I was taking a lot of computer programming classes,” he shared on Leadership Live With David Rubenstein. “I started a software company in my dorm room,” said Kotick. It wasn’t a gaming company. “It was productivity software for the Apple II,” he explained. “Apple had seen the work that we were doing, and they got excited about it. And we had a contract to develop the software for Apple.”

Steve Jobs came to visit and found out that Kotick was still a student. According to Bobby Kotick, the business magnate gave him an ultimatum that would forever change the course of his life. “He said I needed to quit [college] or I couldn’t keep the contract,” recalled Kotick. Did he have any other words of wisdom? “He said that studying the history of art wasn’t going to be a productive way for me to spend my time,” shared Kotick.

Kotick admitted that it took him six months to work up the nerve to tell his parents that he had dropped out of the University of Michigan. According to him, “They told me I should stop wasting my time and go back to college.”

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick Leaves School to Find Success

Or course, Bobby Kotick didn’t listen to his parents and instead embarked on his path to creating what would become the Activision Blizzard video game empire. And he made his parents proud along the way. However, he says if his child pulled such a stunt, “I wouldn’t be as tolerant and forgiving.” But he (and the late Steve Jobs) are in good company, considering tech leaders like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg also dropped out of college and created hugely successful and forward-thinking corporations.

“I wouldn’t necessarily recommend dropping out because I think a great education is probably the most valuable thing you get, especially in America,” said Bobby Kotick. He and Warren Buffett have discussed aspects of successful leaders and agree that “if you are an entrepreneur, the only reliable predictor I have ever seen for future business success is how early and enthusiastic you are as an entrepreneur.”

Kotick described himself as “very entrepreneurial as a kid.” He said,  “When I got to college, I continued my entrepreneurship by starting this software company. However, I would definitely not dissuade someone from a great college education.”

If he had to go back to college and do it again, Kotick said he “would either go into genomics and proteomics or molecular level computing, quantum computing. I think that the great advances in society are going to come from those disciplines. And if I had the opportunity, that’s probably what I would do.”

That said, he’s perfectly content to be the CEO of Activision. “What we’ve done for the last 30-plus years, I couldn’t imagine doing anything different. I think that for the next 30 years, if I have the opportunity to continue to do what I’m doing, I would love doing that,” Kotick admitted. “The success that I’ve had in business allows me to be philanthropic. I think I get an enormous amount of joy from that and purpose. Being able to inspire young people to go off and be entrepreneurial is something I get a lot of joy and satisfaction from. And then for the company, it’s a culture of really inspired, driven, creative, ambitious people. I come to work, and I get very energized by the people that I work with. And so there’s a lot of joy from that, but I’m a very fortunate, grateful person. And I have the benefit of incredible privilege and opportunity.”

Activision Blizzard is betting its biggest market on phones. According to Kotick, “Android is the biggest platform in the world for us, then iOS. As long as we know that we can create great compelling, differentiated content will support most platforms.” That means gamers across a plethora of platforms can expect a lot of amazing new gaming experiences from Bobby Kotick’s Activision Blizzard for years to come.

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About Dequiana Jackson

Dequiana Jackson, Founder of Inspired Marketing, Inc., helps overachieving women entrepreneurs conquer limiting beliefs and create marketing plans that grow their businesses. This includes one-on-one marketing plan development, digital product creation, web design and content marketing. Dequiana is the author of Know Your Business: How to Attract Ideal Clients & Sell More and runs the award-winning blog, Entrepreneur-Resources.net.

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