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Longtime Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner dies at 58

Hasbro chief Brian Goldner stands next to some of the company's toy figures.
Hasbro’s Brian Goldner stands next to some of the company’s toy figures at the company’s headquarters, in Pawtucket, R.I., in 2008.
(Associated Press)

Hasbro Inc. said Chairman and Chief Executive Brian Goldner, who helped the company overtake longtime rival Mattel Inc. and steered the toymaker deeper into Hollywood, has died. He was 58.

Hasbro announced Goldner’s death late Tuesday in a statement, just two days after disclosing he was taking medical leave. Goldner said he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014.

He was a hugely influential figure at Hasbro, which was founded in 1923. He helped the Pawtucket, R.I., company become the largest U.S. toymaker on the strength of brands such as Scrabble, “Star Wars” and Transformers.

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Goldner expanded the company’s girls business, reviving the My Little Pony franchise and winning the large Disney Princesses license away from Mattel.

He joined the company in 2000, was appointed CEO in 2008 and became its chairman in 2015. Rich Stoddart was named interim CEO this week.

Goldner also strengthened the company’s presence in Hollywood, keeping an office on the Universal Studios lot in Los Angeles and partnering with movie giants to introduce film versions of toy brands such as G.I. Joe and Battleship. In 2019 he announced the $4-billion acquisition of Entertainment One, a company best known for its Peppa Pig brand.

Even as he battled his illness, Goldner stayed with the company, helping it navigate the closing of the Toys R Us chain, as well as pandemic-related supply disruptions.

Goldner “has been the chief architect behind the brand blueprint,” analyst Stephanie Wissink said in a research note. Under his leadership, Hasbro “evolved from a manufacturing company to a manager of a robust portfolio of over 1,700 brands.”

In an email this week to Hasbro employees, Goldner reiterated that he had been undergoing medical treatments — and announced that Stoddart, a longtime board member and lead independent director, would be stepping in as interim CEO.

“Let’s continue to Supercharge the Blueprint as we build Hasbro into the world’s leading play and entertainment company,” Goldner wrote.

Goldner was born April 21, 1963. He graduated from Dartmouth College. Goldner joined Hasbro in 2000 from toymaker Bandai America Inc. as operating chief. He served on the board of ViacomCBS Inc.

Under Goldner, Hasbro also focused on increasing digital revenue through the pandemic amid the closing of retail stores. The company has more than 6,800 employees and operates in 35 countries. Its fiscal year revenue was almost $5.5 billion.


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