Richard Tait, the co-creator of Cranium and former CEO of the company behind it, has passed away. The 58-year-old once known as the Grand Poobah died of complications from COVID-19 at the age of 58.
His family announced his passing in a short update to his LinkedIn page on July 28th thanking former coworkers, friends, peers and those he inspired for sharing their condolences and support.
“It is with great sadness that we have to inform you of the death of our father, partner, and your friend, Richard Tait. Richard passed away on the morning of Monday, July 25th in his home from continued pulmonary complications due to COVID-19. Richard was an incredible person and a bright light for so many. This is a devastating loss for all of us and he will be greatly missed,” his family wrote.
Tait is best known in the tabletop space for co-creating the original Cranium family/party game alongside Whit Alexander. The pair were both executives at Microsoft and left together in 1998 to create the board game that would soon become a massive hit and spawn its own company.
According to The Seattle Times, Tait introduced the first version of Cranium to Microsoft coworkers as a shoebox full of components. The eventual retail product tasked players with carrying out a variety of tasks that ostensibly relied on a broad variety of intellectual strengths - some would require factual logic or knowing triva while others asked for a performance or sculpting with the included tub of clay. The game’s lasting popularity as an approachable party game would spawn dozens of expansions and variations.
Hasbro purchased Cranium, brand, company and employees, for $77.5 million in 2008. Tait continued as an entrepreneur, launching startup incubator BoomBoom Brands. He also worked with Starbucks and most recently was a partner at Seattle-based venture capital fund Valor Siren Ventures.
An obituary posted online by the family hosts a tribute wall and directs well wishers to plant a tree in Tait’s memory.