Paizo Expands Leadership Team

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

CEO Lisa Stevens recently expanded the Paizo Leadership Team to include industry veterans Mike Webb and Jim Butler. Mike and Jim join Jeff Alvarez, Erik Mona, Lisa Stevens, and David Reuland as they work together to drive Paizo into the future.

“With me stepping back from day-to-day operations of Paizo, it’s been important for me to find leaders that can guide the company into the future,” said Lisa Stevens, CEO of Paizo.

Jim Butler with a grey plush dragon on his shoulder

Jim Butler began working in the industry as an editor and game designer for TSR, eventually moving to Seattle with Wizards of the Coast where he worked alongside Lisa Stevens on the brand team for Dungeons & Dragons. Jim founded Bastion Press before working for Turbine/WB Games on Dungeons & Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings Online. He then worked for Trion Worlds as Director of Global Marketing for RIFT and other MMOs.He completed the circle in 2017 when he returned to Seattle to work for Paizo as Vice President of Marketing and Licensing. He lives in Redmond with his husband Matthew and their furkids (Toker, Stella, and Skylar).

“I’m excited to bring my experiences and expertise to help shape the future of Paizo,” said Jim Butler. “Gaming is an integral part of my life, and I’m looking forward to working with the rest of the leadership team to grow the Pathfinder and Starfinder brands for many years to come!”


headshot of Mike Webb

Mike Webb has been a role player since 1980, and made his living in the industry since 1997, when he joined Zocchi Distributing as Vice President and General Manager. In 2000, he joined the crew of Alliance Game Distributors as Vice President of Customer Service and Marketing, where he led innovative and national award winning in-store promotions and marketing programs. He has been active in the community, serving 14 years on the Game Manufacturers Association Board of Directors, and running miniature games and rpgs at local and nationwide conventions. An avid fan of Pathfinder from the beginning, Mike joined the Paizo team in July 2021. Mike lives in Decatur, Indiana where he runs a weekly Pathfinder game for his high school son.

"I've long found Paizo to epitomize what's great about our business. Bringing people to the table to tell epic stories together, providing truly mythic campaigns and Adventure Paths, and providing GMs and players tools that expand that experience - these are the things that made me a fan,” said Mike Webb, Vice President of Sales and E-Commerce. “Having the chance to join a team I've admired for years is the opportunity of a lifetime.”


You can reach Jim and Mike via email at jim.butler@paizo.com and mike.webb@paizo.com.

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Darth Game Master wrote:
White men make up roughly 30% of the US population and 40% of Washington state's, both quite a bit less than 6/7. I'm not trying to make any accusations here, but the math does not work out.

While this is an important metric, it's also helpful to be accurate with the population census data.

According to 2021 census data, the population census breakdown by ethnicity in Redmond Washington was:

White 55.00%
Asian 36.44%
Latino 6.80%
Two or More Races 4.68%
Black or African American 1.78%
Native American 0.20%
Pacific Islander 0.20%

I am all for more diversity when it comes to hiring practices for Paizo. If that means that they need to expand their recruiting efforts well beyond Redmond, then they should.

I also firmly believe that they should practice a company culture of promoting from within whenever possible and helping build the careers and experience of the people who have shown loyalty to them over the years. There are exceptions where you need a specific skillset with an established history and track record. But whenever you have the time to build up the people working for you then you should definitely do that.

The only thing that I would ask for is for the policies that guide recruiting, hiring, and promotions to follow more modern standards and for them to make business decisions based around performance and history rather than the gender or ethnicity of the employee.

There are some good examples out there where hiring managers were given resumes without names or any other potential identifying information to make their initial plans for interviews. That should be a bare minimum when attempting to acquire new talent to the company.

When it comes to promoting from within they should make sure that all policies relevant to that strongly encourage picking candidates based on their performance and practical skills for the position they're promoting into.

Still, they can only do so much. As long as they're putting in good faith efforts and can prove it that would be enough for me.


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Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure wrote:

Bill : Ted, while I agree that, in time, our band will be most triumphant. The truth is, Wyld Stallyns will never be a super band until we have Eddie Van Halen on guitar.

Ted : Yes, Bill. But, I do not believe we will get Eddie Van Halen until we have a triumphant video.

Bill : Ted, it's pointless to have a triumphant video before we even have decent instruments.

Ted : Well, how can we have decent instruments when we don't really even know how to play?

Bill : That is why we NEED Eddie Van Halen!

Ted : And THAT is why we need a triumphant video.

RIP Eddie Van Halen, but the point remains -- if the system persists, there's No Way barring an obscure miracle (or time travel shenanigans) to get 'new blood' into the system when there's things stacked against said 'new blood'.

It is good to see at least an incremental step, but... more needs to be done, and the accountability questions remain to be answered.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Gloom wrote:
Darth Game Master wrote:
White men make up roughly 30% of the US population and 40% of Washington state's, both quite a bit less than 6/7. I'm not trying to make any accusations here, but the math does not work out.

While this is an important metric, it's also helpful to be accurate with the population census data.

According to 2021 census data, the population census breakdown by ethnicity in Redmond Washington was:

White 55.00%
Asian 36.44%
Latino 6.80%
Two or More Races 4.68%
Black or African American 1.78%
Native American 0.20%
Pacific Islander 0.20%

That only proves my point further, since 55% is lower than the national percentage of people identified in the US Census as White* (and the numbers you gave overlap so it seems like only 49.9% would be exclusively "white"). I was cutting the number in half since I was discussing white men--the actual number would be a bit off since the ratio of men to women isn't exactly 1:1 and polls estimate nonbinary adults are around ~0.4-0.5% of the population, but it was an approximate number anyway.

Either way, I'm obviously not saying employees have to perfectly match the demographics of the area, but there's a clear imbalance. I get what you're saying about promoting people already in the company to executive roles, but a more varied leadership is still possible even if they limit the choices to current Paizo members.

*around 61-62% if I recall correctly, or 57-58% if you count only non-hispanic white people (and lower still if west Asian or north African descended people were counted as nonwhite, which they should be, but that's neither here nor there)


Doesn't one of the new VP's live like in Indiana? Looking beyond Redmond are they?


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We minorities should just be quiet and know our places and be glad that we are allowed the scraps from the table, don't want to get too haughty and want a place at the table.

Equity is hard.


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What do you know, two more middle aged white guys in management.

Because that's the demographic with ALL the ideas and will promote diversity!

But hey, at least they have a union!


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Paulyhedron wrote:
That’s unwelcoming right there. ‘You’re not 100% in lockstep with our way of thinking so you should go’ . But I’m not the one trying to tear down a company because it’s not completely perfect in my head cannon either. Progress is incremental not scorched earth.

Nobody's trying to tear the company down, we just want it to build up better

Acquisitives

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Andy Brown wrote:
Paulyhedron wrote:
That’s unwelcoming right there. ‘You’re not 100% in lockstep with our way of thinking so you should go’ . But I’m not the one trying to tear down a company because it’s not completely perfect in my head cannon either. Progress is incremental not scorched earth.
Nobody's trying to tear the company down, we just want it to build up better

Take my upvote there. Reckon that’s hard to see going back to beginning of the thread when there’s a post going straight to race right after admitting there’s a list of accolades there.


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Darth Game Master wrote:

That only proves my point further, since 55% is lower than the national percentage of people identified in the US Census as White* (and the numbers you gave overlap so it seems like only 49.9% would be exclusively "white"). I was cutting the number in half since I was discussing white men--the actual number would be a bit off since the ratio of men to women isn't exactly 1:1 and polls estimate nonbinary adults are around ~0.4-0.5% of the population, but it was an approximate number anyway.

Either way, I'm obviously not saying employees have to perfectly match the demographics of the area, but there's a clear imbalance. I get what you're saying about promoting people already in the company to executive roles, but a more varied leadership is still possible even if they limit the choices to current Paizo members.

*around 61-62% if I recall correctly, or 57-58% if you count only non-hispanic white people (and lower still if west Asian or north African descended people were counted as nonwhite, which they should be, but that's neither here nor there)

I think you might be a bit confused here, I was not trying to disprove your point nor was I trying to make a point that there isn't an issue with the diversity of the leadership team at Paizo.

You provided a statistic that was incorrect and I was providing the most accurate and up to date information that I could find.


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And because I haven't seen it in a few posts.

Looking forward to what having 2 more faces on the executive leadership team will change. Honestly and grateful that they have increased the team. I hope that everyone on the team has equal voicing otherwise it is more of an advisory committee than an executive level decision making team.

Jim is good people, super happy that he is a member and has a voice in decision making.

Don't know Mike, but people here have said good things about him.

It's not their fault that the Executive Leadership team is lacking in more diversity, but I hope that they hear us and understand that it is important to some of their customers that the company practices what they sell in their fantastic products.

Silver Crusade

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I'd like to point out that respect is something that should not be freely given, and the people that have been argumentative about topics such as what is transphobic for the past month and a half have done nothing to earn my respect.

Acquisitives

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Cori Marie wrote:
I'd like to point out that respect is something that should not be freely given, and the people that have been argumentative about topics such as what is transphobic for the past month and a half have done nothing to earn my respect.

I’m the opposite, you’ve (everyone) has my respect until they don’t. Respect is given then kept by being earned.


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Paulyhedron wrote:
Cori Marie wrote:
I'd like to point out that respect is something that should not be freely given, and the people that have been argumentative about topics such as what is transphobic for the past month and a half have done nothing to earn my respect.
I’m the opposite, you’ve (everyone) has my respect until they don’t. Respect is given then kept by being earned.

Respect is valuable. Common Courtesy is what I freely give. I am kind to everyone until they lose that.

People often say Respect when they mean Courtesy. Maybe not you, but there is a subtle and vast difference between the 2 words for me.

Respect:
a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

Courtesy:
the showing of politeness in one's attitude and behavior toward others.

I do not personally admire anyone until they have shown me they are worthy of my admiration. I can be polite to anyone and everyone and it costs me nothing.


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Cori Marie wrote:
Heck, with the exception of Erik Mona, I don't think I've ever seen a single adventure written by any of the other executives.

Huh.

Never stopped to think about that one before. Thank you.


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Yoshua wrote:
Paulyhedron wrote:
Cori Marie wrote:
I'd like to point out that respect is something that should not be freely given, and the people that have been argumentative about topics such as what is transphobic for the past month and a half have done nothing to earn my respect.
I’m the opposite, you’ve (everyone) has my respect until they don’t. Respect is given then kept by being earned.

Respect is valuable. Common Courtesy is what I freely give. I am kind to everyone until they lose that.

People often say Respect when they mean Courtesy. Maybe not you, but there is a subtle and vast difference between the 2 words for me.

Respect:
a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

Courtesy:
the showing of politeness in one's attitude and behavior toward others.

I do not personally admire anyone until they have shown me they are worthy of my admiration. I can be polite to anyone and everyone and it costs me nothing.

Respect can also means:

"due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others"

Which is the definition, I believe, gets conflated with "courtesy".

Humbly,
Yawar


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My parents taught me to stand up to those who would deny others opportunity, since they themselves had been denied it simply because of last name and accent.

We are judged on how we treat the smallest among us.


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And a reminder, for me, this begins with firing an exceptional customer service manager. I miss Sara Marie daily in the CS Forums. I know those peeps are doing the best they can, and are short staffed but losing 2 people the way they did sucks for us as customers.

I mean, telling Diego he didn't 'need' a promotion? How did you think that was going to go over when you fired the person that made him want to stick around in a job he obviously did not feel appreciated in?

Oops.


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When are we minorities every going to learn that challenging the status quo means that those who benefit the most from it might have to examine the other side of life? We need to learn that the only way to make our point made is how the status quo upholders demand that we do.


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Yoshua wrote:
And a reminder, for me, this begins with firing an exceptional customer service manager.

I hope everyone on this forum who works in management in whatever field they are in reads this one several times.

Paizo Employee Vice President of Sales and E-Commerce

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Like Jim, I wanted to take a moment to reply to the questions posed by the UPW.

Quote:
How do these executive leadership positions affect the individuals’ job descriptions and day-to-day responsibilities?

There has been no change to my general job responsibilities other than adding the voice of the VP of Sales and EComm to the leadership team directly - that is, my day to day duties in regards to the Sales department or the website remain identical. I just have added a sales-focused voice to the leadership team’s conversations.

Quote:
Do these positions come with additional power to hire, fire, or discipline employees?

The responsibilities to train, coach, support, and when necessary retrain or discipline employees within the department is unchanged by this move. As Jim mentioned, discussions regarding changes such as hiring and firing are generally handled through broader discussion, and this remains unchanged.

Quote:
What additional compensation has been offered to these individuals?

There has been no change to my compensation package for joining the team.

Quote:
How were these individuals chosen for these positions, and what qualified them for this designation over other managerial employees within the company, not to mention outside of the staff?

I joined the company this summer, coming to Paizo with 25 years of industry experience and the contacts and sales knowledge that comes from two and a half decades of distributing products to 3000 retail stores. That experience includes distribution of Paizo products for the entire existence of the company. As we move forward to expand the reach of Paizo both stateside and internationally, that experience and the contacts earned from it have already seen the addition of new sales channels and enhancement of existing ones.

Quote:
This is a drastic change to the makeup of Paizo’s leadership, but nobody outside the team was told anything about it prior to the original internal announcement. How long had these plans been in the works? Is it your position that company staff should not be afforded the right to learn about such significant changes in company structure before they are made official?

The addition of a voice for the Sales department and Marketing department to larger strategic discussions is a natural progression, so I do not see this as a drastic change. If anything it is a codification of the existing flow of information and strategic planning.

Quote:
Given the concerns already raised regarding a lack of diverse points of view represented on the leadership (formerly “executive”) team at Paizo, what new perspectives do you believe these individuals bring to the table that were previously lacking?

I certainly recognize the concern and acknowledge the optics here. I can say that in my professional history in the industry I have been a strong advocate for diverse hires and diverse views in leadership. In my prior employment, I was an aggressive advocate for broader viewpoints on our teams, and coached employees for executive roles, advocating successfully for diverse employees to be elevated to our Upper Management Team. That is a commitment that is unchanged by my move to Paizo. And again, I recognize some natural tension in that statement coming from someone with my demographic breakdown. The proof as they say is in the pudding - and I know, understand, and welcome the fact that I will have to prove that commitment via action. I do appreciate those with concerns speaking up, and appreciate that I work for a company that welcomes civil discourse even in areas of disagreement.

Quote:
What other personnel changes are you currently considering making without first consulting with affected employees or posting opportunities publicly?

Again, this codification of a voice for the departments on the leadership team was mostly taking an informal advisory and making it a formal one through the department heads. I certainly intend to speak directly to the concerns and ideas of the employees of the department, and to work closely and in common goal with the employees under the forthcoming CBA. We are seeking and have in fact posted open positions for a CFO and an HR Manager with experience in working positively and to mutual benefit in a union environment and a diverse workplace. Outside of that, I am unaware of any major structural changes to the management team.

Mike W

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