Many people are under the mistaken impression that Gary Gygax owned the majority interest in TSR. This is not the case, and here is the chronology that brought a definite minority shareholder status for Gary:
1973: Gary and Don Kaye form Tactical Studies Rules, an equal partnership.
1974: Brian Blume is admitted as an equal (1/3) partner.
1976: Don dies of a heart attack in January. His wife is impossible to deal with. TSR Hobbies Inc. is formed, and this corporation buys out Don's widow. At this point, Gary controls the corporation with c. 60% of the shares. Later on, because of extreme cash shortages, having spent a lot to buy out Mrs. Kaye, shares of TSR are sold to Brian and his father, Melvin. By the fall, Gary's interest in the corporation is down to about 35%, and thereafter it dropped to around 30%.
Simply put, he didn't have the money to keep up with the share purchases. Yes, he placed his own interests below those of the corporation.
1985: Gary exercises an option, and with what amounted to a handful of shares voted by other family members, he had a c. 50.1% majority. Later, when Brian Blume exercised an option he held, so as to sell those shares, and the others he and his brother Kevin held, to Lorraine Williams, Gary was again a minority shareholder.
In this same year he sued to prevent the transfer of Blume-owned shares, arguing that a corporate buy-sell agreement prevented the sale to Williams. The local judge rules otherwise.
The reader is referred also to the FAQ regarding stock ownership in TSR, as it explains a good deal of what happened.
Gary was President of TSR Hobbies, Inc. when it was formed in 1976. In fiscal 1981 the company made c. $16.5 million dollars income, with c. $4.25 pre-tax profit. At this time, corporate long-term debt was about equal to an average month's receipts. Gygax did not believe in borrowing money except for short-term needs, for projects that could not otherwise be produced, but that would in a relatively brief time generate sufficient sales to repay any loan needed to get them to market.
The board of directors of TSR then consisted of Gary, Brian Blume, and Kevin Blume. The latter two voted about 60% of the outstanding shares ofstock of the corporation, compared to Gary's c. 30%.
The Board decided to reorganize the company. Gary would be president, but "beneath" him were two other presidents: Brian Blume was "President of Creative" at TSR, and Kevin Blume was "President of Operations". In theory, they reported to and took direction from Gary. In reality, being two-thirds of the board, the Blumes ran TSR and Gary was boxed out.
From that point on, Gary never ran the company, and had to fight for anything he thought was in the best interests of TSR. Gary wanted to keep the best quality in binding and products in general. He believed that authors of works should have their names on the works. He believed that some royalty should be paid to creative employees. He thought that all employees of TSR should be able to buy shares of stock and participate in ownership.
All of these ideas were antithetical to the Blumes, it seems. Each of these instituted practices were done away with systematically. with product quality being the main target. Brian Blume stated publicly that he wanted "obscene profits at federally insured safety".
In 1983 Gary was instructed by the board to go out to California and set up TSR Entertainment Corp., a company owned by the Exempt Profit Sharing Plan of TSR. He did so, changing the name of the operation to Dungeons & Dragons Entertainment Corp. after discovering that the entertainment business community there would not do business with TSR.
DDEC had the D&D Cartoon Show and several other fledgling projects underway. It was responsible for the closing of the deal whereby Speilberg licensed the name, AMAZING STORIES, from TSR.
Gary returned to Lake Geneva in the winter of 1984 because TSR was in debt and the bank was threatening to force it into bankruptcy. Associates of his called to inform him that Kevin Blume was shopping the company on the street, as is said, out in New York City.
By this time the Blumes had forced him to accept three "outside" directors on the board. The Blumes had embraced the precepts of the now-defunct American Management Association. It was inept at promulgating even manufacturing ideals, in Gary's opinion.
These three petty businessmen, two executives and a lawyer, were absolutely ignorant of the gaming business, and under their direction, and with the Blumes leading the way, TSR had accumulated $1,5 million debt that they couldn't figure out how to pay. amongst their ideas were the dropping of the RPGA and the sale of DRAGON Magazine. After some thought, Gygax presented a long letter to the entire board, outlining the mismanagement of TSR by Kevin Blume, and demanding his resignation and replacement. The board voted four to two, the Blumes abstaining, to remove Kevin and put in place a pro-tem president, one Richard Koenigs. With direction form Gary and other executives of the company, some 90 relatives of the Blumes were removed from the payroll, various corporate owned and leased cars, scores of them, were gotten rid of, unused system office furniture owned and leased was likewise sold or returned, and two major releases were rushed into print--UNEARTHED ARCANA and ORIENTAL ADVENTURES. By April
1985, the corner had been turned, and the American National Bank was no longer glowering and considering pulling the loan plug, so to speak.
It must be noted that the bank was not only not helpful, they were quite obstructive in getting the corporation back on its feet, in Gary's opinion. Prior to the April date, Gygax exercised an option he held, putting many thousands of dollars into the plus side of the corporate ledger, and also assuming a bare majority control thus. He than took the office of the presidency, and told the three "outside" directors that their days were numbered. They had,, he said, "pontificated business" while the company went to near ruin.
Not surprisingly, these three sterling individuals were aligned with Williams and the Blumes in the dispute over whether or not the latter could sell their shares, and an additional 700 they secretly purchased by option exercise. to thus allow Lorraine Williams majority control of TSR.
Learning of the scheme, Gygax acquired attorneys and managed to have a temporary injunction granted so as to prevent the share transfer. However, in late 1985 the county judge, who seemed unable to recognize what constituted a contract, as Gary says, decided in favor of the defendants. At this juncture Gygax started an appeal, but was both hard pressed for funds and heartily sick and tired of the mess. Just before the end of the year, Gygax agreed to sell his shares and other interests to TSR, and left the corporation in the hands of Williams.
The capacity of Lorraine Williams to manage a game company is no longer in question. With a debt load of perhaps $30 million dollars or more, and facing bankruptcy soon, she sold out to Wizards of the Coast in 1997. That is surely a step in the right direction for TSR. Gary believes. Williams despised gamers, and she stated in his presence that they were not her "social equals". She also claimed she was going to show the game industry how business should be conducted. Some lesson.
Clearly, Wizards of the Coast is not of that ilk, runs an excellent operation, and under their direction TSR fans should see a major improvement.
Even before the cartoon show was in production, there was tremendous interest from Hollywood in producing a movie based on AD&D. Gary was active in working with various agents and would-be producers and studios with an aim towards making a movie deal actuality.
The story is lengthy, but the meat of it is this:
A script from James Goldman was acquired by TSR. Several studios were interested. Gary did all he could to get a major theatrical motion picture into production. Every proposal was vetoed by the Blumes and/or TSR board of directors.
Gary had a meeting one morning with Sid Shineberg, then president of Universal. Mr. Shineberg said to Gygax, when Gary came out and asked exactly what his interest was, "We want to acquire you (TSR), joint venture with you, or do just about anything you would like in the way of getting a motion picture deal done."
Shaking his head sadly, Gary told Mr. Shineberg that as a minority shareholder in a closely held corporation, he could only recommend. No trouble guessing what the reaction of Brian and Kevin Blume was to that so that offer ignored, and all others scotched by demands that were impossible, no film contract was ever signed.
That, incidentally, pretty much spelled the doom of DDEC--Dungeons & Dragons Entertainment Corp., of which Gary was then president. However ...
This multi-genre game system and the first game within it, the MYTHUS FRPG, were conceived in 1986, when New Infinities was in operation.
Gary began writing a horror-based RPG then, and his son, Luke was the first play-tester. After NIPI went down the tubes, he collaborated with Mike McCulley. Mike was co-author of the whole underlying game system, although he hasn't ever gotten proper credit, because of later events.
When large computer corporations were involved via the offices of two agents then representing the game system, it was decided that fantasy rather than horror must be the initial release in the DJ line.
Dave Newton was contracted by Trigee to co-write the now-rush MYTHUS FRPG. So work began immediately, and Game Designers' Workshop was signed up as publisher of the paper side of the game.
The rest is history that's pretty well known. TSR sued claiming all sorts of things, but going mainly on copyright infringement. The suit was settled. TSR paid certain considerable sums of money (in addition to the c. $2 million they had tossed to their lawyers to suppress the game), and they acquired DJ and the ancillary things such as JOURNEYS and MYTHIC MASTERS Magazines.
As of June 1997, there is no indication that DJ will ever be revived, although there is considerable following, and also some "expansion" of the system with enthusiast-generated additions and rules for personal use by active groups so as to be able to continue play in other genres, Gary is told.
To the best of his knowledge and belief, the suit was not the proximate cause of the eventual demise of GDW. In fact, under the settlement, they paid none of the legal fees for defense against TSR's claims, and TSR purchased remaining inventory from GDW.
Gary was never an employee of New Infinities Productions, Inc. He was a big investor, and a member of the board, but he did not hold any office in the corporation.
The one who formed it assured Gary that venture capital to the tune of up to $2 million was available. With credentials including the Wharton School of Business, and face-to-face meetings with attorneys, accounts, and banks--and a seemingly barely-missed meeting with the investment people, Gary agreed.
The end of the tale is that there were never any venture capitalists on tap, it seems. When a demand was made to bring the money in, Forest Baker tendered his resignation and in no time NIPI was down the tubes.
Gary was the major investor, and he lost by far the greatest amount of money in the deal. However, he apologizes to all the others who, on the strength of his participation likewise invested and lost money in the concern. It was a matter of too many people taking large salaries out of NIPI while product was lacking to support such excess.