Archie Co-CEO Banned From Company

The newest twist in the battle over Archie Comics between co-CEOs Jon Goldwater and Nancy Silberkleit happened last week, with a federal judge placing a temporary restraining order on Silberkleit that prevents her from entering the company headquarters, or doing any work for the company.

Nancy Silberkleit

The two CEOs reached their positions through inheritance, with Jon the son of one of the company founders and Nancy the widow of Michael, son of another founder. Goldwater filed a lawsuit against Silberkleit before last year’s San Diego Comic-Con accusing her of bullying and sexually harassing employees, while Silberkleit claims a sexist “old boy network” is attempting to keep her out of the company. Goldwater sued again in mid-January in an attempt to remove her from the company, charging “Unless Silberkleit is removed as a director and an officer, the company — an iconic American company — is in serious danger of failing and being liquidated.” There have been rumors of trouble at Archie, with a reduced publication schedule, although nothing publicly confirmed.

Some of the contention is over Silberkleit’s Comic Book Fairs program. She’s a former teacher, and she established the division to teach school kids reading can be fun. Goldwater charges that the program has cost the company over $100,000 while grossing under $10,000. As CBR reported,

As co-executor of her late husband’s estate, [Silberkleit] controls a 50 percent stake in the company. Goldwater owns 25 percent of the shares, and represents the other 25 percent held by the estate of his late brother Richard Goldwater, who passed away in 2007.

It’s a split that leaves Archie’s board of directors deadlocked. Goldwater contends it also hampers the growth of the company, as Silberkleit has rejected proposals for outside investors, who would of course seek an equity share. She has “repeatedly and emphatically said that she would never agree to any dilution of the Silberkleit 50 percent equity interest at any price and under any terms, conditions, or circumstances,” the complaint states.

However, Silberkleit’s control of her late husband’s shares is in dispute, as the children from Michael Silberkleit’s first marriage are contesting their father’s last will, written while he was dying of cancer.

This is a problem faced by any family business. It’s difficult to come up with a succession plan that everyone can agree with and carry out. In this case, if Silberkleit is dead set on keeping half the company, then the risk is that the publisher will be destroyed instead of any compromise being possible.


6 Responses to “Archie Co-CEO Banned From Company”

  1. Bytowner Says:

    Why do I get the paranoid suspicion that the Comic Book Fairs are likely being targeted for discreditation in spite of actually succeeding at the intended goals?

    Best way to dispell the paranoia: find out how well they’re actually working out.

  2. Kevin Melrose Says:

    Bytowner, the only way anyone outside of Archie is likely to find out how well, or how poorly, the comic fairs have performed is if the financial records are submitted as evidence in the lawsuit.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Not to mention that it’s very plausible that that type of well-meaning market expansion will lose money in the short run, while being good for the company and the industry over a much longer period of time.

  4. Anthony Says:

    Wonder if the company is truly in danger of being liquidated? And if so, what would the fate of its characters be (bought by Disney or Time-Warner to go along with Marvel/DC? Or the characters merely vanishing with the company?)

  5. Bytowner Says:

    Not sure that either of those situations makes for a good ending to this story!

  6. NY Times Covers Archie CEO Battle » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] the New York Times posted a lengthy article summing up the current struggle between the CEOs of Archie Comics, with various charges asserted and lawsuits filed. I particularly like the [...]

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