Friday, February 17, 2023

HARD EVIDENCE: Sony executives flew from London to Seattle in a Falcon 8X on February 6, presumably to negotiate Call of Duty license with Microsoft


There has been a lot of discussion on Twitter. I was not first to write about it; I just saw this article by a New York-based academic and entrepreneur.

It's important to distinguish two aspects of this:

  1. Did some Sony executives fly from London to Seattle on February 6?

    There can be no reasonable doubt about that part. Some are unconvinced that the airplane in question still belongs to Sony, but no one can point to a different operator.

  2. Was the purpose of the trip to negotiate a Call of Duty license with Microsoft?

    That question cannot be answered with certainty until there is either a definitive confirmation or denial. Some have said on Twitter that Sony may have had other reasons than a meeting with Microsoft to fly to Seattle and point to the game development studios Sony owns in that area (Bungie, Valkyrie, Sucker Punch, possibly others). So there is more than one plausible explanation.


This is a follow-up to my previous post on Microsoft-ActivisionBlizzard, Rumor of Sony having visited Microsoft to negotiate Call of Duty license, potentially paving way for clearance of Activision Blizzard purchase.

It is now an established fact that Sony executives flew from London to Seattle on February 6. The most likely explanation for that trip is that after a meeting with the UK Competition & Markets Authority they went to visit Microsoft to discuss the terms of a long-term Call of Duty license.

In that previous post, I originally made a request (which I've meanwhile deleted):

It would be great if someone with experience in tracking private planes--such flight information is publicly accessible--could verify the claim of a Sony corporate jet having visited Seattle last week. If you can confirm based on public information that Sony's visit to Seattle took place last week, please email me [...].

In response to that request, a Twitter user named kjgvad (@g_3_r__) provided me with a couple of hints:

check Feb 6(London->Seattle->) and Feb 17th(LA->Seattle)? Could this be it? N57SN and N60SN look the two most likely to be ones belonging to Sony.

I [m]ight be wrong however.

I clicked on the link and found out that the airplane with the registration number N57SN indeed flew from London to Seattle on February 6:

So the remaining question was: does that one belong to Sony? The answer is yes:

N57SN | Dassault Falcon 8X | Sony Corporation

Flickr user James Ronayne published the above photo, which shows the Dassault Falcon 8X arriving into Luton airport in September 2020--and the Flickr page states that this plane belongs to Sony Corporation (click on the image to enlarge):

Thank you @g_3_r__! This is huge.

As @g_3_r__ also noted on Twitter, it's pretty common for such a plane to be (re-)register under an ownership trust's name. But it was registered under Sony's name, and Sony is the actual operator:

The screenshot says: "Owner / Operator: Sony Aviation"

As Twitter user @bluspacecow pointed out, this is an aircraft trust managed by the Bank of Utah. Also, @bluspacecow said this:

Furthermore, @g_3_rr stated a couple of reasons for which this is done:

Again, here's a link to the previous post on this subject.