Richard Tate, co-creator of board game Cranium, dies at 58

mr. Tate studied computer science as a bachelor at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh before moving to the United States where he received a master’s degree from the Dartmouth Tuck Business School. After completing his MBA, he took a job at Microsoft in suburban Seattle as the software maker grew into one of the most powerful corporations in the world. Shortly thereafter, yeah hired one of the company’s most notable employees: Future CEO and Chairman Satya Nadella.

In the 1990s, during the heyday of the multimedia CD, Mr. Tate directed Microsoft’s catalog of reference books, including the Encarta Encyclopedia and Bookshelf, a comprehensive collection including the Roger’s Thesaurus, the American Heritage Dictionary, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, and the Chicago Manual of Style. He eventually became something of a full-time entrepreneur at the company, launching five new internet companies within Microsoft in four years, including Carpoint, a car-buying service, and Sidewalk, an online city guide.

He left the company in 1997, hoping to become a radio disc jockey thanks to his Scottish accent. But after an unsuccessful audition, he decided to develop Cranium by creating a new company, Cranium Inc. Alexander, former Microsoft colleague.

By the time they finished making the game in late 1998, game stores and other traditional retailers had already stocked their shelves for the holiday shopping season. But one afternoon when they met for coffee at a Starbucks in Seattle, Mr. Tate had another thought: what if they were selling the game through a chain of coffee shops?

“His idea was to sell the game not where the games were sold, but where our customers were,” Alexander said. “Most of the people we were looking for would never set foot in a play store.”

Through an acquaintance, Mr. Tate arranged a meeting with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and soon Starbucks was selling Cranium in stores across the country. Later, Mr. Tite and Mr. Alexander made similar deals with and Barnes & Noble, both of which were then known for selling mostly books, not games.