As President of Universal Brand Development, Vince Klaseus oversees the division that brings NBCUniversal’s stories and characters to life through innovative and engaging products, games and experiences from a wide expanse of categories, ranging from toys and apparel, to books, apps and mobile games, to exhibitions and live arena shows. He assumed leadership of the new division with its inception in September 2014.
The Universal Brand Development segment includes global Consumer Products, Games and Digital Platforms, and Live Entertainment. Additionally, Klaseus is responsible for creating strategies and initiatives to build and grow the company’s portfolio of intellectual properties into robust consumer brands through Franchise Management. Klaseus’ brand-centric approach to developing extensions and new engagement points has helped fuel franchise growth of the rapidly expanding intellectual property portfolio, which includes beloved and iconic brands such as Universal’s Jurassic World and The Fast & the Furious franchises, Illumination’s Despicable Me and Minions, and the Dreamwork’s Trolls, and How To Train Your Dragon franchises, as well as the Dreamworks TV original series Spirit Riding Free and Voltron, to endearing classics like Curious George, Felix the Cat, and Where’s Waldo, just to name a few.
Under Klaseus’s leadership, Universal has grown the profitability of the business over 600% since 2013, and hit a historical high of nearly $5 billion in retail sales in just four short years, marking the largest expansion in the space in Universal’s over one hundred year history. During his tenure, Klaseus also rapidly developed the organization globally from a single North America-based operation to over 14 vertical subsidiary offices around the world including Europe, Latin America, China, and Japan. This period of remarkable transformation has also resulted in the business unit receiving numerous accolades, including a 2018 TOTY for “Innovative Toy of the Year” for the Jurassic World T.rex costume; DreamWorks Trolls being named the #3 Girls’ Entertainment Brand by The NPD Group, and Minions being voted 2015 “Brand of the Year” at The Licensing Awards. In addition to notable achievements in gaming, such as LEGO: Jurassic World being named the No. 1 kids’ console game of 2015 and the Fast & Furious: Legacy mobile game receiving, “Best of 2015 Sports and Racing Games”, UBD also moved into direct publishing of mobile games, first releasing the highly anticipated Jurassic World Alive game coming summer 2018. Klaseus is providing new immersive brand experiences through live entertainment, including global exhibitions such as the highly successful Jurassic World: The Exhibition to arena shows like Fast & Furious Live and the recently announced upcoming launch of the Jurassic World Arena Spectacular with Feld Entertainment.
Prior to joining Universal in 2014, Klaseus was the Chief Executive Officer of Cartwheel Kids, a company he co-founded that designs and manufactures innovative products for children. Under his leadership, Cartwheel Kids retained numerous high-profile licensing deals, and received several accolades and awards for innovative product designs.
Before founding Cartwheel Kids, Klaseus worked for the Walt Disney Company for 12 years. During his last four years with the company, he served as General Manager and Senior Vice President of Disney’s Global Toy division leading a multi-functional, global team that oversaw business and retail development, marketing, and design and product development, and achieved over $10 billion in worldwide retail sales.
From 2004 to 2008, Klaseus was the Senior Vice President of Franchise Management responsible for strategically developing brands across the Walt Disney Company and helping to cultivate some of the largest kid’s franchises in the industry, including Disney Princess, Mickey Mouse, Toy Story, and Disney’s Cars, to name a few. He also served as Vice President of Film Franchise Marketing, and joined the company in 2000.
Klaseus worked for various international consumer product companies early in his career, including Mattel, which he joined in 1995. He also served as Co-Chair for the Family Equality Council’s Annual Impact Awards, an organization dedicated to changing attitudes and policies to ensure that all families are respected, loved and celebrated. He is currently a board member of Big Sunday, a chartable organization that connects people to improve lives and build community in the greater Los Angeles area.
Klaseus received his MBA from The American Graduate School of International Management and his Bachelor of Science Degree from The University of Minnesota. He lives in Los Angeles with his husband and twin children.