Peter Adkison: A Letter on Leaving WotC

Here's the message WotC employees got to see as a kind of farewell message from CEO Peter Adkison (thanks to Tom Frisby, first of many scoopers). Reposted here with permission.

Greetings friends,

As of January 1st 2001 I will no longer be an employee of Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro.

No,I'm not getting fired or layed off. I'm leaving voluntarily. I'm sure many of you will want to know why. Well, I don't think that the core of my reasoning is any more complicated than this. When you start a company and run it as CEO for many years you think of it as your own. Yes there are other shareholders and a board of directors you answer to, but your vote is always the biggest vote. Then you sell the company and you go along trying to make the best of the situation, telling yourself that you still have the same responsibilities as before, plus a vote in something even bigger. That works for a while until something happens that you object to and in spite of your best efforts you find yourself powerless to stop it. At that point you are forced to accept the fact that the company is no longer yours, that you no longer carry the biggest vote, and that can be difficult to take. I'm not naive. I always knew intellectually this was the case, but to think you understand something and then actually experience it are two different things.

I have several thoughts I want to leave you with.

First do not by any means feel sorry for me. I made the choice to sell and if I had it all to do over again I'd make the same decision. I fulfilled many amazing dreams through this company. I made a lot of people a lot of money. I feel very good about that. And although I didn't design many of our games, I know that I contributed significantly to many of them, not just by starting this company and running it well but also as a CEO who is a gamer at heart and made for an effective sounding board with our R&D department. In particular I'm very proud of having written Wizards of the Coast's first product, The Primal Order; the role I played in the publication and development of Magic: The Gathering; the acquisition and subsequent turnaround to profitability of TSR; and the 3rd Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, a game I've loved since 1978.

I feel particularly privileged to have worked with so many amazing people. Richard, Jim, Skaff, Jot, Vince, Monika, Jesper, the list goes on and on and I can't hope to list everyone. Truly the hardest thing about leaving is leaving the companionship I have with so many people who are here.

What will I do next? Hard to say. Many people dream of having the means to not work,travel around, goof off, etc. Most people don't get to do that until they are perhaps too old to enjoy it; I'll get to try it in my 30s (barely)! I'll stayin touch and send pictures of me rock climbing and snow boarding in exotic places! You'll also see me around here from time to time I suspect. I have acouple of D&D campaigns I intend to keep running whenever I'm in town. Eventually I'm sure I'll want to work again. I'll go crazy not being productive. And some sort of change will do me good. I have an amazing resume thanks to Wizards of the Coast and I hope to leverage that by either running or starting another company someday. I have some truly incredible opportunities ahead, and no one can take away the incredible accomplishments I can now list on my resume.

I want all of you to understand that I still strongly, adamantly, passionately believe that this is a very magical place. What we are doing is producing amazing games, bringing joy to millions of gamers around the world. Our customers are a tough crowd. They love to bitch. But don't let that fool you.I've found that deep down inside most of them hold us in very high respect and are truly amazed by the games we make. And at least within the Hobby Game segment, as long as we make money Hasbro is not likely to interfere with the way we do business. And I hope you'll all be proud of being part of Hasbro too. Hasbro is a great company that's produced many toys and games that we've grownup with, like Monopoly, Clue, Scrabble, and so on. If I were someone else and I were offered a job here at Hasbro I would be ecstatic at the opportunity to work for such a great company and with so many great people.

Finally I want to put in a good word for Vince, Al Verrecchia, and Alan Hassenfeld. I'm leaving you in very good hands. Effective January 1st, Vince will be CEO of Wizards of the Coast. Vince has been COO of this company for several years now and I know better than anyone else that he's fully capable of leading this company through the rough waters ahead. Vince is also a hobbyist at heart and understands our business very well. He's also an inspirational leader; I know,I used to work for him at Boeing and that's why I hired him in the first place. He's also a great friend and I hope you'll support him in the times ahead. Regarding Al and Alan, in spite of some differences of opinion on a couple of business issues, I have the utmost respect for both of them. Both are men of integrity, are hard workers, have the best interests of the company at heart,and they've never mislead me or played bullshit political games with us. These are incredible attributes to find in the people at the top.

Well,this has dragged on long enough. I'll be around until Christmas break, so feel free to stop by and say hi/goodbye if you like (but only if you promise not to cry I'm trying to keep positive!).

It's been truly an honor to serve with you all.

Peter D. Adkison
Founder& CEO, Wizards of the Coast
December14, 2000
 
Last edited:
Russ Morrissey

Comments

Mistwell

Hero
Claiming a firing was a resignation is not uncommon and it fit with a pattern. (the pattern was indeed not actually there in 2000 however)
He owned the company. Which is why I asked if you were high. It's Peter Adtkison. The guy who owned Wizards of the Coast (and Magic: The Gathering) and sold it to Hasbro. 20 years ago. The two guys he mentions in his "thank you" are the current CEO and the now former-CEO of Hasbro.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
The guy who owned Wizards of the Coast (and Magic: The Gathering) and sold it to Hasbro.
Ah, personally I think its sad some of the things that happened regarding company in a short while. Big corporations sometimes lack humanity.
 

Staffan

Adventurer
He owned the company. Which is why I asked if you were high. It's Peter Adtkison. The guy who owned Wizards of the Coast (and Magic: The Gathering) and sold it to Hasbro. 20 years ago. The two guys he mentions in his "thank you" are the current CEO and the now former-CEO of Hasbro.
My understanding is that Peter never actually owned a significant portion of Wizards of the Coast, because he wasn't particularly good at business at the time it was founded. As it was explained to me:

Basically, at the time a corporation is created, there is a one-time opportunity to assign ownership of the stock in whatever fashion you want. So you can say "this company has 1,000 shares. Alice, Bob, and Chris each get 200 shares, and the rest are held by the company itself." The company can then use those shares as compensation for various things, or sell them directly. When Wizards was created, all the shares belonged to the company itself. Peter got some of his salary in the form of shares, but so did a lot of other people doing business with Wizards.

Eventually, as Wizards became more valuable (particularly when flush with Pokemoney), other shareholders wanted to cash out, and that was kind of difficult because Wizards wasn't publicly traded. So they basically gave Peter an ultimatum: go public, or sell the company to someone. He chose the latter.

The event that lead to Peter leaving Wizards was when Hasbro sold off the rights to make digital versions of pretty much all their games, including D&D, to Atari.
 

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