‘Cranium’ inventor and serial entrepreneur was ‘the ultimate

Richard Tait, serial entrepreneur, Microsoft veteran and “Cranium” creator. (GeekWire File Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Richard Tait, the longtime Seattle entrepreneur who co-founded the wildly well-known board game “Cranium” just after shelling out 10 many years at Microsoft, has died. He was 58.

Tait handed absent on Monday at his Bainbridge Island, Clean., house from “continued pulmonary troubles because of to COVID-19,” in accordance to a Facebook put up by his household, shared with GeekWire.

Cook dinner Family members Funeral Home of Bainbridge Island posted a brief obituary. News of his demise was also shared in a be aware to employees from Valor Fairness Companions Co-President Jonathan Shulkin. Tait experienced been a spouse at Valor Siren Ventures because March 2019.

“It is with fantastic disappointment that Valor Equity Companions announces the death of our colleague and pal Richard Tait,” Shulkin wrote. “Our Valor community, as well as the many men and women that labored with Richard above the decades, mourn his passing. He will be greatly missed.”

Tait’s son, Finn Tait, also posted TikTok films and Instagram pictures in which they remembered their father.

“He was a great father,” Finn explained in one video. “It was like having Willy Wonka for a father. I enjoy him pretty substantially and I’m heading to overlook him a good deal.”

Tait started out at Microsoft in July 1988 and is credited with launching a sequence of new businesses at the tech large. He served pioneer consumer server computing in the company’s working technique division, ran the CD-ROM organization with products and solutions like Encarta, and started off a variety of shopper-oriented on-line providers which include Carpoint, Sidewalk and others, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Tait was even the to start with manager of present-day Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, whom he served recruit from Sunlight Microsystems in the early 1990s.

“Cranium” board sport. (Hasbro Impression)

But it was Tait’s selection to go away Microsoft in 1998 that would largely define his legacy, as he and fellow Microsoft government Whit Alexander co-founded “Cranium.”

It became just one of the swiftest-offering online games in history and spawned a amount of “Cranium”-branded comply with-ups and linked merchandise. Gaming big Hasbro purchased “Cranium” for $77.5 million in 2008.

“We established out to build a brand name that would give everyone the prospect to glow,” Tait stated at the time of the sale. “We’ve completed that and so substantially extra, earning heritage with terrific merchandise that have gained five Toy Marketplace Affiliation Game of the Calendar year awards.”

Seattle entrepreneur and marketing and advertising govt Adam Tratt realized Tait at Microsoft, when “Cranium” was “just an plan in a shoe box,” he advised GeekWire. Tait desired aid bringing the plan to industry and Tratt, who ended up investing six a long time at the firm, was amongst the first to participate in “Cranium” with pals in his dwelling room.

“I would explain him as the final dreamer,” Tratt reported. “Everyone else would have looked at ‘Cranium’ and seen at best a awesome new board game and at worst a mix of board video games you’d seen just before that had been set in a blender, and put in a fairly box. And what Richard noticed in that box was a way of living manufacturer.”

Tait was capable to take straightforward concepts and flip them into much much more. “That was his specific sauce: his eyesight and his creative imagination and his capacity to feel big,” Tratt claimed.

On the lookout for fantastic ideas

Tait’s following phase following “Cranium” was the start of BoomBoomBrands in February 2008 “to ignite breakthrough imagining, foster creativity, and give a harmless position for fantastic concepts without corporate critique, and give them the probability to glow and thrive.”

He served as a marketing consultant to inner product groups at Starbucks in which he released the True Food, Only Delicious campaign and, in accordance to the firm, shaped “the health and fitness and wellness technique in 2009 and 2010.” He was a member of the Seattle espresso giant’s Transformational Agenda management staff credited with turning Starbucks around throughout a hard financial time.

Golazo sports drink
(Golazo Image)

Tait then established Golazo, a soccer-themed vitality sporting activities consume, in 2010. The products became very well funded in 2011 with a $3.7 million spherical from traders who provided Starbucks’ Howard Schultz. And Golazo was effectively recognised thanks to a hefty social marketing campaign and Seattle’s emerging position as a soccer capital.

But irrespective of ongoing progress, Golazo failed to attain profitability and protected more cash and had to shut down.

From there, Tait went back again to Starbucks, using on the exclusive title of senior vice president and entrepreneur in home — a initially at the firm. He invested 2 1/2 years “bringing the vitality and enthusiasm of a startup within the rhythm of a huge company,” he stated on LinkedIn, wherever he termed himself the company’s “Chief BoomBoom.”

Tait was a co-founder and board member of Moment, the Seattle-dependent maker of attachable lenses for wise phones and other digicam equipment. In an Instagram article on Thursday, Moment co-founder and CEO Marc Barros referred to as Tait the “spark to our early flame, the wind behind our backs” and claimed that Tait “challenged us to think even larger and influenced us to be so substantially extra.”

“He impacted a lot of persons in Seattle, particularly the startup local community,” Barros explained in an electronic mail to GeekWire.

Tait was also a longtime mentor in the University of Washington’s Foster Faculty of Organization.

Geoff Entress, running director and co-founder of Pioneer Sq. Labs, called Tait’s dying “an remarkable reduction for the Seattle entrepreneurial community. He was these kinds of a gem and an inspiration to so lots of of us. He will be sorely missed.”

Shauna Swerland, CEO of Seattle’s Gas Talent, remembered assembly Tait for the to start with time soon soon after she returned to Seattle from New York.

She’d read stories that Tait was demanding and powerful. But at that very first espresso meeting she was achieved with warmth and laughter, and she was struck by how promptly the organization discussion turned deeply personal. That assembly led to the get started of a friendship.

At a person of their upcoming conferences, Swerland offhandedly mentioned that her son was a massive basketball fan. Listening to this, Tait, an avid collector of a huge assortment of mementos, disappeared for a minute to return with a pair of autographed Chris Webber basketball sneakers for her son.

“He was the finest,” Swerland stated. “Amazing storyteller, supportive good friend, creative thinker and so generous.”

In a Facebook article on Thursday, Seattle startup vet Kyle Kesterson explained his heart was damaged in excess of the passing of his friend and mentor.

Kesterson known as Tait “the leading shining case in point around how creative imagination, merchandise, company, enjoyment, kindness, and greater services all collide. He helped me think what is attainable.”

GeekWire Elevator Pitch judges, from remaining, T.A. McCann, Richard Tait and Heather Redman. (GeekWire File Image / Kevin Lisota)

Tait also was uniquely related to GeekWire.

In 2018, he served as a judge in the inaugural season of GeekWire’s Elevator Pitch startup competitiveness, imparting witty suggestions with his fading Scottish accent.

GeekWire co-founder John Cook dinner credited Tait with furnishing some of the best entrepreneurial information he’d at any time heard when it came to making new organizations: “If you are not owning exciting, you are not doing it right.”

A 2010 story by Cook dinner documented Tait’s 8 tips for entrepreneurial achievement, such as a person that was an especially crystal clear hallmark of Tait’s vocation: “Lead with passion, a perception of discovery and pace.”

Scottish roots

Richard Tait with his moms and dads in an graphic he posted on Fb in April 2017.

Richard John Tait was born in Broughty Ferry, Scotland, on Jan. 17, 1964.

In a profile, the web-site Heroes Centre claimed Tait expended his formative decades in the coastal town of Helensburgh. He gained an honors diploma in computer science from Scotland’s Heriot-Watt College right before leaving for the U.S. in 1987 to “make his fame and fortune,” in accordance to the Heroes Centre bio.

Tait acquired an MBA from Dartmouth College in 1988 and then joined Microsoft, recalling later on that he went from paperboy to program big.

“I adore currently being an entrepreneur and have completed it considering the fact that currently being a younger boy in Scotland,” Tait said when he rejoined Starbucks in 2016. “I love buyer models, making great teams and the option to build an emotional relationship with a client and drive differentiation in the market.”

In March 2019, he joined Valor as a lover with the firm’s food technological innovation, retail technological innovation, and sustainability targeted undertaking fund, in accordance to the note to staff.

‘He was such a gem and an inspiration to so lots of of us. He will be sorely missed.’

“Richard was an significant Valor culture carrier who embraced our mission every working day of serving and investing in corporations trying to find to make the globe a much better place,” Valor’s Jonathan Shulkin wrote. “He was thoroughly fully commited to generating a positive difference in each and every way achievable, from the organizations we serve to our group at Valor, our strategic associates, and all the persons he touched.”

Shulkin claimed that Tait is survived by his a few young children, Remi, Finn, and Deacon, as very well as his stepdaughter Bella.

“He cherished them all tremendously,” Shulkin stated, “and we know they intended the environment to him.”

Tratt, who went on to develop into a basic manager at Cranium following actively playing an early variation of the game in his dwelling room, stored in touch with Tait on a regular basis, describing him as a person who cared deeply about other people.

Tait would simply call persons on their birthdays, and forward shots from the past to reminisce about shared recollections with friends and colleagues.

“He generally ended just about every connect with by telling you how much he beloved you,” Tratt mentioned.

By using the funeral dwelling, Tait’s family is facilitating “memorial tree” donations in his memory.

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