TSR Staff Levels at TSR

In the early 1980s, the staff levels at D&D publisher TSR* peaked at near 400 people, although by the mid-80s it had dropped back down to below 100. D&/D historian Jon Peterson (whose book Game Wizards: The Epic Battle for Dungeons & Dragons is coming out soon!) charts the figures from 1976 through to 1985.

*That's the original TSR, not the current TSR!


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I'm picturing some poor soul getting job applications the equivalent of the infamous Waldorf letter.

Exhausting is probably the right word. I imagine any job posting from TSR in Dragon would have been prone to getting hundreds, if not thousands, of completely unqualified applicants who dreamed of getting their "big break" in the games business by appling to anything that popped us. And back in those days some poor schlub in HR would have been tasked with physically opening and reading every incoming letter, one by one, to sift through them and find the real applicants. I feel for that person.

One thing I noticed is that there are some employees listed in NY/NJ - did TSR have an NYC office or something?

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Swedish Chef

Investment groups often THINK they know enough about a business to turn it around and manage it profitably, but this is not always the case. Egos and ignorance play a role here, just as they do most everywhere else. When it turns out that the investment group bit off more than they could chew, it's not unheard of for the entity they purchased to be scrapped--physical assets liquidated, intellectual property sold off.
Having experienced investment groups buying 2 of the businesses I worked for over the past decade, I can verify both aspects.

First business was based in the UK with and office in Canada (where I worked). At the time, 300+ employees in the UK and 100 in Canada. Investment groups buys it out and brings in a new CEO. New CEO had no clue how to run the type of business we were. He was from a travel company, we were selling business conferences. 1 year later he was out, a second CEO was in. Less than 10 months later, Canadian office closed, UK office down to 80 staff and a third CEO in place. 16 months later the UK office was wound up.

Second company, similar setup. European based, secondary Canadian office. Investment group comes in and buys up everything. Then they bring in a CEO who worked in the industry and had a great track record. Then they let him do his thing.

2 years later, they sold the business to another group at a massive profit.

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