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13, May, 24

Ex-WOTC CEO Lands Major New Role At Collectibles Company!

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It wasn’t too long ago that the Magic world was rocked by the news that Wizard of the Coast’s CEO, Cynthia Williams, was stepping down from her position. This news, much like Williams’ time in the position, was met with mixed responses from the community. Despite this, she hasn’t had any trouble securing a new position. Just a few days ago, it was announced that the ex-WOTC CEO would be assuming the same role at Funko, beginning May 20th.

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Timing Is Key

Dedicated Dollmaker | Alchemy | Michele Giorgi

Williams will be taking over from Michael Lunsford, who has been serving as Funko’s interim CEO since July 2023. This comes at a crucial moment for Funko, which, according to reports, has been experiencing a downturn in revenue over the last couple of quarters. Williams’ past experience is largely within the digital sector. That said, her time at Wizards may put her in a position to lead Funko to success.

For those unaware, Funko is a toy company best known for its line of Funko Pop collectible vinyl figures. These span all manner of franchises, featuring characters from video games, TV shows, films, and more. There are even Funko Pops portraying iconic Planeswalkers from MTG. For Funko, the cute, ‘chibi-ified’ versions of popular characters and high collectability are the main draws.

Williams’ appointment coincides with the announcement of Funko Fusion. This is a new video game starring playable Funko Pops locked in a battle with evil, yet still adorably vinyl, forces. It echoes the popular Lego games of the past and marks a significant diversification for the company. Williams has experience as VP of the Gaming Ecosystem Commercial Team at Microsoft, where she worked to grow Xbox Gaming. So the timing of this move is near-perfect.

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A Chequered Record

WOTC-CEO-Funko-Pass-the-Torch

This move comes directly after Williams stepped down as CEO of WOTC. Announced just last month, her resignation came as a shock to many, but a relief to others, who weren’t best pleased about the direction the game has been heading in as of late.

Though she only served in the role for two years, beginning in February 2022, Williams’ tenure had no shortage of controversy. It was under Williams that Magic 30, the disastrous ‘anniversary celebration’ product that offered non-tournament legal Alpha reprints in what amounted to $250 packs, was released. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it was during her term that the now-infamous ‘Pinkertons Incident’ took place.

Despite the immense controversies, there was another, less flashy change that will likely end up being Williams’ legacy in Magic. Back in February, during Hasbro’s 2023 earnings report, it was announced that two full-size Universes Beyond sets will be coming to Magic each year going forward. Admittedly, this announcement was somewhat controversial, as Universes Beyond has always been a divisive initiative within the MTG community. That said, the major products so far, Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, in particular, have been resounding successes.

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Moving On

Williams’ tenure at WOTC was a mixed bag, then, but Magic has undoubtedly made some strides in that time. Universes Beyond products may not appeal to flavor die-hards, but they’re all incredibly well-designed, and brilliant representations of their source material. There’s also the expansion of Showcase styles and Bonus Sheets, seen most clearly in Outlaws of Thunder Junction. These have had a mixed reception as well, but they’ve undoubtedly added significantly to the collectability of the game. And that’s before you mention the lower card prices as a result of frequent alt-art reprints.

The lessons Williams learned during her time at WOTC should stand her in good stead as CEO of Funko. Whether it’s the translation of IP a la Universes Beyond or the extra collectability of alt-art cards. If you’re an avid Funko fan, don’t be surprised if you see her influence in the way Pops evolve and change from now on.

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