December 5, 2008

Does firing people make you a better manager? Hasbro CEO is 2008 CEO of the Year

MarketWatch has named the CEO of Hasbro, Brian Goldner, "2008 CEO of the Year". Click here for the full story. I wonder how much of a role he had in deciding who got the axe this week in the Wizards of the Coast layoffs. I find it interesting that, while Mr. Goldner can rake in over 5 million dollars a year personally in compensation, they needed to fire these nine members of the D&D team at WotC just weeks before the holidays.

"The results are big, too: Hasbro has posted a year-to-date profit 10 percent larger than last year’s, MarketWatch reported, despite a year-over-decline in the latest quarter as the economy slumped (READ MORE). The company is predicting record annual sales of more than $4.1 billion. And its shares have risen about 3 percent this year, while the toy sector and the stock market as a whole have fallen about 40 percent."
Can someone please stand up and explain why they fired all these people at Wizards of the Coast given the above "record profits?


  1. 1) Getting peoples salaries off the books before year-end makes your profits go up.

    2) I highly doubt that the CEO of the company has any input into people below a certain level in the company being fired.

    3) The buck stops with Hasbro but Wizards still has its own management team and they are the ones who make the hiring and firing decisions. They're the ones trying to look good to the higher-ups and trying to do what they think is right for the company.

  2. It's sadly simple. WotC is division of Hasbro. So while the company has whole has done well, the WotC division has underperformed compared to other divisions. I'm sorry to say that WotC being brought by Hasbro was always a bad idea. RPGs are not like other games and sadly Hasbro still doesn't understand that.

  3. While I recognize that Mr. Goldner probably had zero to do with the firings, you would think that the firing of a VP (Randy Beuhler) would at least be on the radar. But then again, I suppose WotC is a subsidiary of Hasbro, so there's no direct management. I just saw this news article come across my feedreader and I thought it was too ironic not to share.

  4. Unfortunately CEO of the year awards are usually determined entirely by profits, growth, and similar markers. Neither ethics nor class are factors.

    One can only assume that Hasbro believes next years profits will be higher without the employees than with them. It is unfortunate, but when WotC sold out to Hasbro, D&D became just another product, one created by disposable employees.

  5. An interesting experiment would be to find out Hasbro's hiring/firing practices in their other divisions and compare it to Wizards.

  6. As a follow up.. the decision to fire those people was, no doubt, that of Greg Leeds - the CEO of Wizards of the Coast.

  7. Here's an interesting quote from article from Feb of 2008:

    Sales in the quarter rose 8 percent at Hasbro's North American division, although operating profit fell 22 percent partly due to higher royalties and advertising expenses. Operating profit was also affected by Hasbro's investment in its Wizards of the Coast online gaming initiative.

    So it looks like the online gaming initiative was eating into profits. Looking at their financials (, Hasbro lost profits were down almost $100 million in Q1 and Q2 this yeaar, but went back up that $100 million in Q3. It will be interesting to see how Q4 plays out.

    If I had to guess, Wizards decided that the online initiative was pretty much finished, or very close to it, and almost ready to ship so they didn't need to keep as many people related to it on-board.

    But I'm just speculating; I really have no idea and I can't find Wizards' financials, only Hasbro's.

  8. @Tony: "and almost ready to ship"

    But in what condition? The polished gaming suite promised at the original 4e press release or in a "wrap up what you have and put it out" state?

  9. @Mad Brew - Well, of course I don't know. ;)

    They didn't fire the techs, they just fired the people in charge of the techs. So their still working on it and the people doing the actual work are still in place.

  10. I wonder how much Leeds knows about RPG's and gaming culture...

    It bothers me that a man runs a company with little background in what the company does...

    He's a long term Hasbro guy, who's had to learn what RPG's are...

    From when he was announced:
    "Leeds is moving to Renton following seven years at Hasbro where he headed up International Marketing and helped to develop Hasbro’s global brand management methodology. Prior to that he led Hasbro’s Boys group and had extensive experience in marketing, operations, and sales at both Samsonite and Procter & Gamble."

    I'm sure he's a fine fellow, but he's got no hobby gaming experience. Suitcases & Toothpaste...

    Why havent they promoted Bill Slaviscek to that position?

    I hate ranting, but how much D&D is he playing up in his corner office?


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