Activision is suing Netflix over "poaching" a former executive

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Activision is taking Netflix to court, over the latter allegedly stealing their CFO while he was still under contract. This isn't the first time this has happened before, as both Viacom and Fox have sued Netflix, and won, in the past over these same claims, in 2018 and 2019 respectively. However, this is the first time Netflix has potentially poached someone from a video game company. News outlet Deadline has posted the legal document, which shows that Activision Blizzard is seeking punitive damages for Netflix's actions, along with a ruling that would prevent Netflix from ever trying to hiring any current Activision workers with contracts. A few snippets from the legal papers have Activision lawyers claiming that "to shape its workforce to its desires, Netflix not only ruthlessly fires its own employees that it deems “adequate,” but is engaged in a years-long campaign of unlawfully poaching executives from Netflix’s competitors regardless of their contractual obligations. In so doing, Netflix intentionally disregards well-established California law".

The at the time Activision Blizzard CFO, Spencer Neumann, had a contract with the company that began in 2017, and spanned until April of 2020. Despite this, Neumann bailed on his Activision job in favor of being employed by Netflix in early 2019, regardless of the contract breach. According to the document, Netflix's co-CEO Reed Hastings was directly involved in hiring Neumann, meaning the "disregard" for the law went all the way up to the top of the streaming giant. Activision hasn't specified just how much money they're seeking in damages, but it'll be determined in the ensuing court trial.

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chrisrlink

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I think if the CFO wants to work elsewhere, he should be allowed to. It's actually kind of Activision's fault, here, for trying to keep him under contract when he doesn't want to be. I think they should settle this out of court before it gets out of hand.

While Netflix may be the kind of company that Activision claims, I don't think that is the case here.
Activision settle out of court? no their out for blood i can easily tell what kind of legal team they have, take no prisoners I'm surprised NF came out practically unscathed from that "cuties" bullshit
 
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jimbo13

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Arts & sports excluded Considering the vast majority of employment is at will on both ends, this contract shit is way to antebellum for my comfort.

The right to provide & refuse service at will is a fundamental human right. No asterisk.
 
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FAST6191

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I think if the CFO wants to work elsewhere, he should be allowed to. It's actually kind of Activision's fault, here, for trying to keep him under contract when he doesn't want to be. I think they should settle this out of court before it gets out of hand.

While Netflix may be the kind of company that Activision claims, I don't think that is the case here.

So I can break contracts just because I don't want them to be the case?

This is not to say I don't find a lot of employment contracts to be quite dubious affairs (even more so if you are playing at C?? level) but a simple time commitment is usually not one of them.
 

pedro702

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I think if the CFO wants to work elsewhere, he should be allowed to. It's actually kind of Activision's fault, here, for trying to keep him under contract when he doesn't want to be. I think they should settle this out of court before it gets out of hand.

While Netflix may be the kind of company that Activision claims, I don't think that is the case here.
it may not even be why that he was unhappy but more like netflix giving him a big fat paycheck, heck for most people, unless its a work of passion, if someone else offers them much more money they would change jobs in an instance, even tough they weren't unhappy but just found something better with more benefits.
 

Ritsuki

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I don't understand what's illegal, could someone please explain it to me? Because where I'm from it would be actually illegal for Activision to put any kind of pressure on the employee if he or she wants to leave the company, and poaching is not illegal at all, on the contrary, there are people called headhunters that are specialised in that
 
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FAST6191

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I don't understand what's illegal, could someone please explain it to me? Because where I'm from it would be actually illegal for Activision to put any kind of pressure on the employee if he or she wants to leave the company, and poaching is not illegal at all, on the contrary, there are people called headhunters that are specialised in that


It is fairly common in much of the world, especially the US, and especially for high value employees (and anybody in the C?O roles* will be that) to have a contract signed detailing their terms of work, what they do on social media, their compensation (can be stock options, profit shares, performance based and more in addition to a basic salary), how long they will work for the company for (sometimes you even see people put through university to in turn be asked to work for the company for a few years), what they are allowed to do after leaving the company (several companies have been taken out when someone leaves and takes their team with them), what things made during company time belong to, what things made outside company time belong to (it is rarer now but for a few years a lot of companies said anything made outside company time is ours too) and so on.
Sometimes these contracts are considered invalid in some terms (many court cases over this one), other times you find people with hand caught in the cookie jar but as they were not fired properly according to what their contract said they still got to keep their severance pay.

Here is a shorter one but still a decent example of a chief financial officer
https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1166003/000119312504197306/dex102.htm
Different companies might negotiate different aspects.

*C?O, sometimes seen as CxO though CXO is also short for chief experience officer, is short for chief something officer. Technical, operating (boss of all bosses, give or take the board), financial, personnel... http://cxosearch.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Cxo-Search_List-of-chief-officer.pdf and many more exist. There are common ones to most companies though.

Headhunters still exist in the US and elsewhere, paid rather a lot of money for their services if working in the C?O field too (hundreds of thousands for a single role, though they might in turn be expected to help the transition). Anyway there are often ones without a contract, ones where a contract ended (sometimes you will be brought in for a few years to shake things up according to your skills and let go afterwards), semi retired, company gone bankrupt, company got sold, those that got fired, junior officer that is looking to move up and so forth.

In this case I guess it is alleged that the former activision guy still had some years to run on the contract but netflix said come work for us. He quit (you can usually quit but contract might state not allowed to work as/in this industry for a few years) and went to netflix. Netflix presumably would then be said to have known this was the case, and in doing so caused activision a loss as they have to replace him.
 
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Ritsuki

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It is fairly common in much of the world, especially the US, and especially for high value employees (and anybody in the C?O roles* will be that) to have a contract signed detailing their terms of work, what they do on social media, their compensation (can be stock options, profit shares, performance based and more in addition to a basic salary), how long they will work for the company for (sometimes you even see people put through university to in turn be asked to work for the company for a few years), what they are allowed to do after leaving the company (several companies have been taken out when someone leaves and takes their team with them), what things made during company time belong to, what things made outside company time belong to (it is rarer now but for a few years a lot of companies said anything made outside company time is ours too) and so on.
Sometimes these contracts are considered invalid in some terms (many court cases over this one), other times you find people with hand caught in the cookie jar but as they were not fired properly according to what their contract said they still got to keep their severance pay.

Here is a shorter one but still a decent example of a chief financial officer
https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1166003/000119312504197306/dex102.htm
Different companies might negotiate different aspects.

*C?O, sometimes seen as CxO though CXO is also short for chief experience officer, is short for chief something officer. Technical, operating (boss of all bosses, give or take the board), financial, personnel... http://cxosearch.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Cxo-Search_List-of-chief-officer.pdf and many more exist. There are common ones to most companies though.

Headhunters still exist in the US and elsewhere, paid rather a lot of money for their services if working in the C?O field too (hundreds of thousands for a single role, though they might in turn be expected to help the transition). Anyway there are often ones without a contract, ones where a contract ended (sometimes you will be brought in for a few years to shake things up according to your skills and let go afterwards), semi retired, company gone bankrupt, company got sold, those that got fired, junior officer that is looking to move up and so forth.

In this case I guess it is alleged that the former activision guy still had some years to run on the contract but netflix said come work for us. He quit (you can usually quit but contract might state not allowed to work as/in this industry for a few years) and went to netflix. Netflix presumably would then be said to have known this was the case, and in doing so caused activision a loss as they have to replace him.
Thanks a lot for this detailed explanation. In Switzerland, it's illegal to put conditions like these in a work contract, it makes the contract void, but the thing is even if the contract is void you would still need to go to court to defend your rights and most of the companies know that people won't go to that extend and would prefer to accept "unfair" contracts than not having a job. But at the same time, since the contract is void, even if signed, an employee can leave the company and usually if he or she knows the law he would be able to defend him/herself in court or take pretty much any lawyer.

Anyway, thanks again for the explanation and the links!
 

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Thanks a lot for this detailed explanation. In Switzerland, it's illegal to put conditions like these in a work contract, it makes the contract void, but the thing is even if the contract is void you would still need to go to court to defend your rights and most of the companies know that people won't go to that extend and would prefer to accept "unfair" contracts than not having a job. But at the same time, since the contract is void, even if signed, an employee can leave the company and usually if he or she knows the law he would be able to defend him/herself in court or take pretty much any lawyer.

Anyway, thanks again for the explanation and the links!

Might have to do a little study of Swiss laws some day. They have some odd ones for a lot of different things (I think I last met it with fonts).

Anyway cases (though increasingly they try to go for arbitration) involving contract law and employment law happen all the time in the US and there are plenty of things that get parts of the contract or the whole thing thrown out. Here is a case from California from a few days ago for example
https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=98c325f9-f2ad-4206-9c0f-5db485bf4be9
Whether I would want to be a C?O defending myself in such a case is a different matter. Like most US law it is often pretty opaque to those that have not specialised to some extent in it.
 

pyrotechnicmonkey

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Thanks a lot for this detailed explanation. In Switzerland, it's illegal to put conditions like these in a work contract, it makes the contract void, but the thing is even if the contract is void you would still need to go to court to defend your rights and most of the companies know that people won't go to that extend and would prefer to accept "unfair" contracts than not having a job. But at the same time, since the contract is void, even if signed, an employee can leave the company and usually if he or she knows the law he would be able to defend him/herself in court or take pretty much any lawyer.

Anyway, thanks again for the explanation and the links!
In a case like this leaving might be against the terms of the contract. Activision would be entitles to any penalties agreed to in the contract against the employee who left but not against the company that poached him. No court would enforce a noncompete, ie stopping the employee from working for Netflix for a period of time, but if the contract is valid, the court or arbitration could award damages to Activision only from the employee and not Netflix. That is if the contract is enforceable, I'm fairly sure non-competes are super hard to enforce in California.
 

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Thanks a lot for this detailed explanation. In Switzerland, it's illegal to put conditions like these in a work contract, it makes the contract void, but the thing is even if the contract is void you would still need to go to court to defend your rights and most of the companies know that people won't go to that extend and would prefer to accept "unfair" contracts than not having a job. But at the same time, since the contract is void, even if signed, an employee can leave the company and usually if he or she knows the law he would be able to defend him/herself in court or take pretty much any lawyer.

Anyway, thanks again for the explanation and the links!
I think I'd rather work in Switzerland, then. No binding contracts... that sounds good to me. :)
 

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I think if the CFO wants to work elsewhere, he should be allowed to. It's actually kind of Activision's fault, here, for trying to keep him under contract when he doesn't want to be. I think they should settle this out of court before it gets out of hand.

While Netflix may be the kind of company that Activision claims, I don't think that is the case here.
just because he didn't want to be under contract anymore, does not mean he can just run off while being under contract. That brings a lot of legal problems and possible fines and jail time.
 
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FAST6191

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Most likely usenet/newsgroups.

Breaking the first rule of such things (that being don't talk about it, it also happens to be the second) but hey.

It is a service that predates the internet.

Originally it was a text discussion group (or series of groups) maintained in a distributed fashion around the world. Sometimes your ISP will include access to it for free, most times (and best service) comes when you pay a usenet provider (monthly, bandwidth block, combo of the two... many things are available here).

However it is easy enough to write out hex as text (granted nobody actually does that these days, it tends to be rather more complicated things like yenc, and also flanked with par2 in case some text gets corrupted) so people started uploading files too.
Three ways to find files -- you visit a search site/service and it will generate a NZB file, you visit a site that has prebaked NZB files, and you download headers and pick out what you want from that. Prebaked is probably the best.

It then became one of the best sources for pirated content anywhere, and despite some setbacks when about 7-8 years ago the media/game companies realised it was going on (they have been going hammer and tongs against torrents and other p2p for many many many more years than that) and started issuing takedowns to the main providers (giganews and astraweb, remember it is a distributed service though they provide the main sources for most) arguably still remains that for mere mortals (a decent topsite access is a different matter).

There is a lot more to cover if we do have to do the history of it all but suffice it to say if you have ever wondered why some things use names like a.b.g.? then know it is short for alt.binaries.games.?.
 
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