Funko CEO taking leave of absence as company struggles

EVERETT, Wash. — First, its warehouse move to Arizona was called, by some, a disaster. A lawsuit followed. Then a cooling market left them with excess inventory. Now its CEO is stepping down. It all raises the question: Is anyone having fun at Funko?

CEO Brian Mariotti is taking a “leave of absence” according to The Everett Herald. However, the company says it will conduct a search for a chief executive.

More bad news at Funko: Arizona move goes south

Mariotti has been CEO since December 2022. Board member Michael Lunsford will serve as interim chief executive.

“Brian has been the driving force of Funko for years and his contributions are found throughout the company’s product and retail innovations,” Board Chairman Charles Denson said. “I am thrilled that Mike can seamlessly step in, while Brian takes some time. We will continue evolving this fan-first brand for the future in a creative and meaningful way.”

Funko is the Everett-based pop culture toymaker known for vinyl figurines with big heads and little bodies. When the company issues characters in limited qualities, their value can go through the roof.

“Funko has been my labor of love for nearly two decades,” Mariotti said in a statement. He will remain as a board member.

“While I’m going to step away from the day-to-day business to recharge my batteries, I plan to stay active on our board,” he added. “I hope to come back and contribute to Funko again in new creative ways. I look forward to seeing our team and fans at San Diego Comic-Con next week.”

Lunsford previously served as interim CEO for EarthLink, an internet service provider, and RealNetworks, a Seattle-based internet streaming software.

Funko laid off more than 250 employees at warehouses in Everett and Puyallup and consolidated its distribution operations to a Phoenix suburb in 2022.

Sales of Funko’s characters grew during the pandemic. But the run at Funko cooled, leaving the company with excess inventory.

The company faces a class action lawsuit filed by a Funko shareholder who claimed the company wasn’t adequately prepared when it moved its distribution center last year from Washington to Arizona.

The lawsuit alleged the company failed to tell investors that it was experiencing significant delays in the rollout of a new software program, critical “to the efficient operation of its new distribution center.”

This story was initially published on MyNorthwest.

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