In a conference call discussing 4Kids’ poor 2009 financials Chairman and CEO Al Kahn personally apologized for his company’s “hideous” performance and promised to return to the business model that had brought the company prominence and profitability. As Kahn put it: “The business reverses in the past few years have caused 4Kids to basically return to the very successfully business model that was used for 20 years prior to the launch of Chaotic. We have decided that 4Kids needs to return to its roots as a licensing and merchandising company that specializes in bringing wonderful Japanese programming and merchandizing to the rest of the world.”
4Kids' gamble on the development of the Chaotic TCG has proven to be a major blunder (see “4Kids Takes $20 Million Chaotic Hit”). Now the company has reversed course and is actively seeking Japanese properties to license. Kahn reported: “We signed yesterday a very important Japanese property that we will be announcing in the next couple of days,” but this appears to be only the beginning of 4Kids' back-to-the-future strategy outlined by Kahn to investors: “As I mentioned, our Japanese trips and our Japanese forays have not gone in vain, and a number of these new things that we will be announcing are substantial Japanese hits that we will making available to kids in the United States on the 4Kids TV network. We believe that these new series will improve our ratings, which ultimately bolster our TV ad revenues and TV related website revenues.”
Kahn also reported that sales of Yu-Gi-Oh! “remain firm,” and that 4Kids is "participating" in a new Yu-Gi-Oh! 3D movie. The company has reduced its workforce from 223 in December of 2008 to a current level of 111, and plans to keep its overhead expenses for 2010 under $25 million. While Kahn clearly hopes that some of the company's new acquisitions will become major hits, he maintains that that kind of success is not necessary for the company to return to profitability.
4Kids’ return to its roots marks a major about face for Kahn, who stated in 2007 that “