Remembering Cranium Co-Inventor Richard Tait

August 5, 2022 | The toy industry is mourning the recent passing of Richard Tait, the co-inventor of one of the most popular party games of the 1990s, Cranium. He died at home in Bainbridge Island, Wash., on July 25. He was 58.

Born in Scotland, Tait studied computer science as an undergraduate at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh before moving to the U.S., where he earned his MBA at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. In 1988, he started his career at Microsoft where he drove four waves of innovation; launched more than a dozen businesses for Microsoft, including Encarta Encyclopedia; and even recruited the company’s now CEO Satya Nadella. Nadella described Tait in a LinkedIn comment on his passing as having an “energy and enthusiasm [that] was always evident in what he did and infectious.” 

That energy and enthusiasm was carried over into Tait’s next role as co-founder and CEO of what was once heralded as the “smartest small company in America” − Cranium. The company and its name-sake game were founded on the principal of giving every player the chance to shine through its various activities. The game would go on to sell more than 40 million games in 22 countries and take home multiple Toy of the Year Awards for the first edition and subsequent versions. The company grew to be the third largest games company in the world before selling to Hasbro in 2008.

“We created history,” Tait wrote of the company on his LinkedIn page. “Few times in your life do you get to create a narrative that truly changed the landscape and human engagement, and we did that with Cranium and its brand. We created experiences that just through their play dynamic and number of players engaged half the planet. We brought the feeling of shine and celebrating what is special inside of each of us to as many people on the planet as we could. Cranium: Everyone shines.”