Brian Goldner – A Tribute
Sad news this week, with the passing of Hasbro’s CEO & Chairman Brian Goldner.
The outpouring of love, respect and emotion on LinkedIn since the sad news was announced has been overwhelming, with touching tributes and personal anecdotes flooding the platform from the very many people who worked with Brian Goldner.
I did not know Brian personally. My only interaction with him was to sit in one meeting he chaired at Hasbro shortly before I left the company, and after he had effectively been handed the reins to take the company forward (this would have been late 2005 or early 2006 I believe). My memory of him in that meeting was of a charismatic leader with passion, vision, energy and purpose, but also someone who listened and meaningfully interacted with the people around him. I thought at the time that things were going to get a whole lot more interesting with Brian at the helm.
Many toy people today may not know or remember that Hasbro had some turbulent times in the late 1990s and early 2000s, leading to CFO Al Verrecchia becoming CEO for some years to steady the ship and to focus the company on profitability and the large stable of core brands Hasbro owned. When the time was right for Hasbro to take an expansive approach again, Brian Goldner came to the fore. Mr. Goldner’s remarkable leadership was clearly displayed in the transformation of Hasbro from a toy company who had chased licensing to an unhealthy and unprofitable extent to a multi-faceted entertainment company who are in themselves a major licensor as well as so many other things today. Bold moves have been typical of Hasbro under Brian’s leadership – the acquisition of Power Rangers, Entertainment One and others through to the Transformers movie franchise and the steps ever further into the world of content and entertainment have worked out to be brilliant moves, leading the company to success and stability.
Old time ‘Hasbeens’ remember working at Hasbro when the share price hit as low as $8 or $9 before Brian Goldner’s leadership of Hasbro began, versus the current price of ten times that (!). While the share price and financial results only tell one side of the story in terms of corporate leadership, the outpouring of emotion at his passing surely tells the other side.
Rest In Peace Brian Goldner – a giant of a man whose impact on the toy business and on Hasbro will long be remembered and cherished.