Already a board member of the toymaker and poised to become board chairman pending a shareholder vote on May 17, Kreiz will officially take the CEO reins on April 26. Margo Gerogiadis, who became chief executive in February 2017, is stepping down “to pursue a new opportunity in the technology sector,” the company said. (Reportedly the new role is at Ancestry.) She will stay on as a Mattel advisor through May 18.
Kreiz will be charged with steering Mattel through a particularly challenging period, as the very definition of childhood playtime is undergoing a complete transformation. Founded in 1945, Mattel has amassed valuable brands such as Barbie, American Girl, Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price. With digital and mobile technology constantly evolving, plus the retail sector becoming increasing complex, entertainment will continue to be a priority. Rival Hasbro, whose Transformers and G.I. Joe toys have powered recent film franchises, made an offer to buy the El Segundo, CA-based Mattel last November. While the overture has not yielded a deal, speculation about a potential tie-up has continued.
“Ynon has tremendous expertise across areas critical to our strategy, including digital, media and entertainment, and we have already benefited from that experience and his compelling vision for the company since he became a director,” said Christopher Sinclair, former CEO and current board chair, who has announced his plans to retire. “Ynon has excelled at anticipating industry trends and brings an outstanding track record of innovation and success, with over 20 years of experience in the media and entertainment industries, including particularly deep experience in children’s entertainment.”
Kreiz, who worked in venture capital before becoming chairman and CEO of Maker (now part of Disney) and Endemol Group (before its merger with Shine) thanked Georgiadis for her efforts to “reset” the company. “Mattel is an iconic company with many of the world’s most beloved brands and greatest toy franchises,” Kreiz said. “I am excited by the opportunity to lead the company towards its next phase of transformation and restore Mattel to a high performing toy company. While the company has been facing significant challenges, we have achieved constructive progress in many key areas. I am committed to building on our existing strategy as we continue to aggressively implement our transformation plan.”
Georgiadis said her tenure saw “strong progress in addressing the critical structural challenges” facing the company.