Wizards of the Coast announced today that the company has reached an agreement to outsource its online retail business to Sean Vanderasson, owner and manager of SVGames L.L.C. Financial details of the transaction were not released, although the company did announce that the transition would by completed by the end of July.
WOTC continues to narrow its focus, having divested itself of its magazine publishing, fan club (see 'WoTC Spins Off Magazines, Star Wars Fan Club'), and convention operations (see 'Wizards of the Coast Sells GenCon to Peter Adkison'), and rumors persist that WoTC is also attempting to unload its brick and mortar retail division -- a move that would certainly be consistent with the divestitures announced to date. E.V.P./COO Loren Greenwood summed up the company's strategy in his comment on the sale of the e-commerce operation: 'The transition of the e-commerce site allows Wizards of the Coast to do what we do best, design and bring to market great games for our consumers.'
Sean Vanderdasson founded WotC's online business and he and the Wizards' e-commerce team operated the online store for all four years of its existence. Just three years ago WotC issued a press release (7/30/99) touting the online store as the 'World's Top Hobby E-Commerce Site' after selling more than $1 million per week for three consecutive weeks. Such was the power of Pokemon at the height of the boom, but it also shows the scale that Wizards e-commerce operation was capable of handling.
The fact that WotC has chosen to spin-off its unwanted divisions to the employees who have been running them not only demonstrates loyalty on the part of the corporation, it should also make for smooth transitions for consumers and minimum interruptions in product flow. The fact that the employees have eagerly seized the opportunities offered by WotC indicates that these key players believe there is a lot of financial value left in the 'extraneous' divisions that the company is cutting loose.