WotC [Updated!] Hasbro Laying Off 1,100 Employees

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Just announced, Hasbro will be laying off an additional 1,100 employees after laying off 800 earlier this year. Some will be laid off this week, some over the coming months. People affected so far include Mike Mearls, Dan Dillon, Amy Dallen, and others.

CEO Chris Cocks commented that “headwinds we saw through the first nine months of the year have continued into Holiday are likely to persist into 2024”. An email to staff, also published in the Wall Street Journal, said:

While we’re confident in the future of Hasbro, the current environment demands that we do more, even if these choices are some of the hardest we have to make.

I know this news is especially difficult during the holiday season. There is no sugar-coating how hard this is, particularly for the employees directly affected.

The issues appear to largely affect Hasbro’s extensive toy sales business. Various folk working on D&D at WotC have started making statements which indicate that layoffs are happening right now:
  • D&D designer Dan Dillon: “Well. Today was my last day at Wizards. Not sure what's next.”
  • Graphic designer Trystan Falcone: “To everyone at WotC getting cut today & especially my fellow D&D team members: May your talent & passion be recognized and rewarded by the lucky teams that snatch you up. You are irreplaceable. To other studios, we are losing incredible folks. Scoop them ASAP. It’s Hasbro's loss.
  • Dixon Dubow, creator relations: “Words cannot describe. So many talented friends and coworkers, simply gone.”
  • Art director Bree Heiss: “Much to my surprise, it is my last day at Wizards. It was an honor and a joy to work on the games I love with people who have become family. If you know anywhere that is looking for a sassy art director with some mad skills, please let me know.”
  • Senior Development Editor Eytan Bernstein: "Hi folks. I was one of the people laid of during the Hasbro layoff this week. I know of four other people on the D&D team who confirmed they were affected, but I'll leave it to them if they want to post about it. This includes folks on the art, design, editorial, and product management depts., and that's just who I've heard about. I have a giant ball of emotions right now. I haven't figured out my next steps yet. If you know of an opportunity that might be a good fit for me, please let me know. I am open for freelance (or full-time) design, editing, fiction, and inclusivity reviews. If it combines RPGs with education, accessibility, or inclusivity, that's also cool. I freely welcome positive thoughts, hugs, and "you're awesomes!" I don't feel awesome right now."
  • Amy Dallen, DnD Beyond producer/host: "I’m deeply proud of the work I got to do at D&D Beyond and Wizards. Thank you to everyone who played a role in those many good memories. I’m not sure what’s next, but I do hope you’ll continue to support the incredible colleagues who remain, who I’ll miss very much."
  • Larry Frum, senior communicatons manager: "As part of the recent Hasbro headcount reductions, I have been let go from Wizards of the Coast, effective itoday. I cannot tell you how honored it has been to work with the wonderful and talented people at WOTC. Being a part of Wizards was a dream job come true for me when I joined a little over a year ago. It is time to start a "new game" and roll for initiative on my next adventure. Please let me know if you hear of anything where I might be a good fit. Excited by what is next."
  • Mike Mearls--previously senior management on D&D but who has been on the MtG team for a few years now--is also one of the people let go, along with many other people working on the Magic: The Gathering side of WotC: "Yes, I was laid off by WotC. Yes, I am doing fine and excited by what's to come. And yes, I have a pretty amazing circle of friends. I'm going to take a nap then get back to the work of forging the future."
  • David McDarby, game designer on MtG: "Sadly, my position at Wizards of the Coast was eliminated today along with many others due to the Hasbro layoffs. I've absolutely loved working at WotC and making Magic Tabletop/MTGO/MTG Arena the best it can be these past 9 years, and I'm looking for my next opportunity!"
  • Paul Cheon, talent manager: “Unfortunately, I will no longer be working for WotC as I was one of the many that were hit by the Hasbro layoffs. It was an absolute dream to work on the game that I've loved playing for over 20 years. Future is unclear but I may fire up a stream after the New Year!”
  • Rob Sather, D&D Art Manager: “Yesterday was surprisingly my last day of work at Wizards as D&D TRPG Studio's Art Manager. My position was eliminated, nothing to do with performance. Can't even utter a snarky quip or light-hearted anecdote, just feeling gutted.”
  • Other confirmed folks include Chris Lindsay (who created DMs Guild), Liz Schuh (licensing and publishing manager), Natalie Egan, community manager Jesse J Hill, and art director Mike Vaillancourt, Vanessa Cuanan (Associate Systems Administrator), Michael Rexford (Senior Data Scientist), Ellie Lockhart (Analytics Engineer), Jana Hodgins (Technical Producer), Megan Galbraith Donahue (Director of MTG Universes Beyond Creative and Production), Deserae Dawn, (Program Manager), David Hartless (D&D Beyond director), Shay Pierce (senior software engineer).
Chris Cocks’ full email reads as follows:

Team,  

A year ago, we laid out our strategy to focus on building fewer, bigger, better brands and began the process of transforming Hasbro. Since then, we’ve had some important wins, like retooling our supply chain, improving our inventory position, lowering costs, and reinvesting over $200M back into the business while growing share across many of our categories. But the market headwinds we anticipated have proven to be stronger and more persistent than planned. While we’re confident in the future of Hasbro, the current environment demands that we do more, even if these choices are some of the hardest we have to make.

Today we’re announcing additional headcount reductions as part of our previously communicated strategic transformation, affecting approximately 1,100 colleagues globally in addition to the roughly 800 reductions already taken.

Our leadership team came to this difficult decision after much deliberation. We recognize this is heavy news that affects the livelihoods of our friends and colleagues. Our focus is communicating with each of you transparently and supporting you through this period of change. I want to start by addressing why we are doing this now, and what’s next.

Why now?

We entered 2023 expecting a year of change including significant updates to our leadership team, structure, and scope of operations. We anticipated the first three quarters to be challenging, particularly in Toys, where the market is coming off historic, pandemic-driven highs. While we have made some important progress across our organization, the headwinds we saw through the first nine months of the year have continued into Holiday and are likely to persist into 2024.

To position Hasbro for growth, we must first make sure our foundation is solid and profitable. To do that, we need to modernize our organization and get even leaner. While we see workforce reductions as a last resort, given the state of our business, it’s a lever we must pull to keep Hasbro healthy.

What happens next?

While we’re making changes across the entire organization, some functional areas will be affected more than others. Many of those whose roles are affected have been or will be informed in the next 24 hours, although the timings will vary by country, in line with local rules and subject to employee consultations where required. This includes team members who have raised their hands to step down from their roles at the end of the year as part of our Voluntary Early Retirement Program (VRP) in the U.S. We’re immensely grateful to these colleagues for their many years of dedication, and we wish them all the best.

The majority of the notifications will happen over the next six months, with the balance occurring over the next year as we tackle the remaining work on our organizational model. This includes standardizing processes within Finance, HR, IT and Consumer Care as part of our Global Business Enablement project, but it also means doing more work across the entire business to minimize management layers and create a nimbler organization.

What else are we doing?

I know this news is especially difficult during the holiday season. We value each of our team members – they aren’t just employees, they’re friends and colleagues. We decided to communicate now so people have time to plan and process the changes. For those employees affected we are offering comprehensive packages including job placement support to assist in their transition.

We’ve also done what we can to minimize the scale of impact, like launching the VRP and exploring options to reduce our global real estate footprint. On that note, our Providence, Rhode Island office is currently not being used to its full capacity and we’ve decided to exit the space at the end of the lease term in January 2025. Over the next year, we’ll welcome teams from our Providence office to our headquarters down the road in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It’s an opportunity to reshape how we work and ensure our workspace is vibrant and productive, while reflecting our more flexible in-person cadence since the pandemic.

Looking ahead

As Gina often says, cost-cutting is not a strategy. We know this, and that’s why we’ll continue to grow and invest in several areas in 2024.

As we uncover more cost savings, we’ll invest in new systems, insights and analytics, product development and digital – all while strengthening our leading franchises and ensuring our brands have the essential marketing they need to thrive well into the future.

We’ll also tap into unlocked potential across our business, like our new supply chain efficiency, our direct-to-consumer capabilities, and key partnerships to maximize licensing opportunities, scale entertainment, and free up our own content dollars to drive new brand development.

I know there is no sugar-coating how hard this is, particularly for the employees directly affected. We’re grateful to them for their contributions, and we wish them all the best. In the coming weeks, let’s support each other, and lean in to drive through these necessary changes, so we can return our business to growth and carry out Hasbro’s mission.

Thanks,
Chris
 
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Nylanfs

Adventurer
John does that for the d20pfsrd.com site. But it's a half volunteer / half ad supported / half OGN store supported site, so cat herding. :)

Edit: Like this, the variant options all have Sec. 15's at the bottom that either link to places to buy the sourcebooks.
 


Stormonu

Legend
So, I find it weird to say this, but... in their defense...

1) TSR was pre-internet. There was really no economical way to finding out what the customers wanted.
2) TSR was also before much of what we'd consider "game design" was well-understood.
3) We, collectively, don't really want one thing, as seen in the discussions on these boards.
4) Frequently, we don't know that we want a thing until we see it - many is the time when the determiner isn't the concept, but in the specifics of execution, which you don't have until the bulk of the money on development is already spent - entertainment is risky that way.
5) As is noted in this discussion - sometimes, what we want would be an overall bad business decision.
I remember survey slips lying in the bottom of my boxed sets or falling out of supplements. I also seem to remember once getting hit up by a survey company in the local mall back in the 90's asking questions about D&D purchases (that one pleasantly caught me off-guard). TSR was doing some half-hearted attempts and I don't know what they were doing with the results, but I'm betting they relied on letters to Dungeon and Dragon magazine for what folks wanted more than any of the survey results. Of course, relying on "fan mail" for the direction to steer your business is a dangerous thing in of itself - customers don't know the business side and can easily steer a company into the rocks with unreasonable demands because they just don't know (or don't care) about the financial viability of their wishlist.

I never filled the paper surveys out myself, though, and if no one is buying your product it doesn't get filled out either.
 

Gravenhurst48

Explorer
I never bought anything for any artist or writer in any version. I just bought the stuff I liked.
You have NEVER purchased anything just because you appreciated, liked, loved, or wanted to invest in sumfin good because the art rocked the kazbah?

OK, I try a different spin. You NEVER have been INFLUENCED to purchase something because the cover looked cool?

For me, I scooped any AD&D book by Jeff Easley just because the art was frkn awesome. The Wilderness and Dungeoneering Survival Guides are two examples I purchased, read thoroughy, and never used because my group at the time weren't into foraging for worms, or cared about rappeling, etc.; they felt the realism slowed down the adventure taking away time for kikn butt and finding treasure.

That all changed when WOW was introduced. Sigh.

Again, knowing the use of AI in D&D also makes me suspicious of anything promoted now. I can trust MTG team because they advertise how proud they are using artists for their cards.

Maybe the laidoff art team employees were canned due to the AI scandal? Maybe Cocks wants to invest in real artists? Lol, oh boy, I know that sounds like a stretch, considering you recommend all D&D going all digital. At that point, I wouldn't care then about the art because I would only purchase whats inside, unless there was a hot lady on the cover. That could persuade me to buy digital D&D.

Anyways, I purchased what I liked too, but cover art certainly persuaded me make some bad choices, I am sure. Today we have media with lots of reviews and opinions in everything so I take a chill-pill before purchasing anything.
 

Gravenhurst48

Explorer
I remember survey slips lying in the bottom of my boxed sets or falling out of supplements. I also seem to remember once getting hit up by a survey company in the local mall back in the 90's asking questions about D&D purchases (that one pleasantly caught me off-guard). TSR was doing some half-hearted attempts and I don't know what they were doing with the results, but I'm betting they relied on letters to Dungeon and Dragon magazine for what folks wanted more than any of the survey results. Of course, relying on "fan mail" for the direction to steer your business is a dangerous thing in of itself - customers don't know the business side and can easily steer a company into the rocks with unreasonable demands because they just don't know (or don't care) about the financial viability of their wishlist.

I never filled the paper surveys out myself, though, and if no one is buying your product it doesn't get filled out either.
I remember those. White and pinkish brown one. The Dragon and Dungeon magazines had the survey cards too.
 

Staffan

Legend
I remember survey slips lying in the bottom of my boxed sets or falling out of supplements. I also seem to remember once getting hit up by a survey company in the local mall back in the 90's asking questions about D&D purchases (that one pleasantly caught me off-guard). TSR was doing some half-hearted attempts and I don't know what they were doing with the results, but I'm betting they relied on letters to Dungeon and Dragon magazine for what folks wanted more than any of the survey results. Of course, relying on "fan mail" for the direction to steer your business is a dangerous thing in of itself - customers don't know the business side and can easily steer a company into the rocks with unreasonable demands because they just don't know (or don't care) about the financial viability of their wishlist.

I never filled the paper surveys out myself, though, and if no one is buying your product it doesn't get filled out either.
There's a post around here from Ryan Dancey about his initial examination of the health of TSR before and during the acquisition, and the main thing he calls out as an issue is this:

Ryan Dancey said:
In all my research into TSR's business, across all the ledgers, notebooks, computer files, and other sources of data, there was one thing I never found - one gaping hole in the mass of data we had available.

No customer profiling information. No feedback. No surveys. No "voice of the customer". TSR, it seems, knew nothing about the people who kept it alive. The management of the company made decisions based on instinct and gut feelings; not data. They didn't know how to listen - as an institution, listening to customers was considered something that other companies had to do - TSR lead, everyone else followed.

There were certainly many things that contributed to the fall of TSR: spreading your customer base over too many product lines, publishing a never-ending stream of novels, an absolute glut of content, trying for not one but two CCGs, and so on. But most of those problems can be traced back to TSR's lack of market research and thus flailing blindly and relying on the gut feelings of various managers.
 

Mecheon

Sacabambaspis
Yep, but actually inclusive of 3P materials and with links to the products so people can buy the rules and complete details.
I've found the best one in terms of actual edition history is 1d4chan of all things which, raises a lot of questions about why the fricking 4chan derived thing is the best for actual looking at the histoy of things and how they've changed through editions
 



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