PAWTUCKET – Longtime Hasbro Inc. CEO Brian D. Goldner has died, just days after taking a leave of absence following ongoing medical treatment for cancer, the company announced on Tuesday. He was 58.
Goldner had served as the CEO of Hasbro Inc. since 2008 and had served as the chairman since May 2015.
Rich Stoddart, most recently the lead independent director of Hasbro’s board, was appointed as interim CEO on Oct. 10 and began immediately.
“Since joining the company more than two decades ago, Brian has been the heart and soul of Hasbro,” Stoddart said in a statement. “As a charismatic and passionate leader in both the play and entertainment industries, Brian’s work brought joy and laughter to children and families around the world. His visionary leadership, kindness and generosity made him beloved by the Hasbro community and everyone he touched. On behalf of the Hasbro family, we extend our deepest, heartfelt condolences to his wife, daughter and entire family.”
Goldner disclosed in August 2020 that he had been undergoing continued medical treatment for cancer since 2014.
Goldner had guided the Pawtucket-based toy company through a transformation into a multinational giant in the entertainment industry.
A big step in that evolution came in August 2019, when Goldner announced the company was purchasing London-based Entertainment One Ltd. for about $4 billion. The deal, which was completed in early 2020, gave Hasbro control of properties such as Peppa Pig and added to its TV production and development capabilities.
The company was wounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, reporting a $222.5 million profit in 2020, down 36% from the year before. But during Goldner’s tenure, Hasbro had found lucrative methods of capitalizing on stalwart and burgeoning brands by bringing them to life in different mediums.
At the same time, Goldner had maintained Hasbro’s reputation as a good employer and corporate neighbor.
For 10 consecutive years, Hasbro has been named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute. And in 2019 alone, the company provided $12 million in philanthropic support to organizations globally and donated 1 million toys and games. Hasbro also touted a 95% employee volunteer participation rate for 2019.
Hasbro also plans to phase out plastic from packaging for virtually all of its new products by the end of 2022.
“Removing plastic from our packaging is the latest advancement in our more than decade-long journey to create a more sustainable future for our business and our world,” Goldner said in 2019.
Most recently, Hasbro created a stir when executives decided to make Potato Head product line gender-neutral, taking “Mr.” and “Mrs.” off the packaging.
“Brian’s passing is a tremendous loss for Hasbro and the world,” said Edward M. Philip, lead independent director of Hasbro’s board of directors. “Brian was universally admired and respected in the industry, and throughout his over 20 years at Hasbro, his inspiring leadership and exuberance left an indelible mark on everything and everyone he touched.”
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