San Francisco – Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella may have to face questioning in a lawsuit filed by a group of video gamers who argue that the company’s acquisition of Activision, the maker of “Call of Duty,” will harm competition. U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled against Microsoft’s attempt to prevent Nadella from being deposed. The gamers’ case runs parallel to a lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last year to block the deal.
The gamers sued Microsoft over its $69 billion purchase of Activision in December 2022, asserting that it would stifle competition and be detrimental to consumers. In seeking to question Nadella, the gamers’ lawyers claimed that Microsoft had not demonstrated exceptional circumstances warranting the prevention of the deposition. The FTC has already questioned Nadella in its case, supporting the gamers’ argument.
Microsoft had no immediate comment on the court order, while attorneys for the gamers expressed their satisfaction with the ruling. Typically, plaintiffs face significant hurdles when attempting to depose top corporate executives. However, Judge Corley acknowledged that Nadella, as the CEO and ultimate decision-maker responsible for the “largest transaction Microsoft has ever made,” may possess crucial knowledge relevant to the case.
Joseph Alioto, an attorney for the gamers, expressed pleasure with the ruling, marking a step forward in their legal battle. Microsoft, in a filing, contended that the gamers had failed to demonstrate that Nadella possessed unique and non-repetitive knowledge that couldn’t be obtained through less burdensome means.
Overruling these objections, Judge Corley granted the gamers the opportunity to question Nadella for up to three hours at a time and place convenient for all parties involved. The judge canceled a February trial due to ongoing appeals at the 9th Circuit and scheduled a status hearing for February 6.
In summary, a federal judge in San Francisco has ruled that Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, can be questioned by video gamers who claim that the company’s acquisition of Activision will impede competition. The gamers’ case runs parallel to the lawsuit brought by the FTC, and in both instances, the court has decided against halting the purchase. The deposition of Nadella will provide an opportunity for the gamers’ lawyers to explore his unique knowledge about the deal, setting the stage for further developments in the legal battle.