There is an old saying that “If you’re lucky enough to be Irish, then you’re lucky enough.” Well, I was not just lucky to know Uncle Frank, I was privileged and honoured to have known the man for over 23 years.
I say man because he embodied everything that we want our friends and family to inspire to: he was strong, fair and commanded respect. He was honourable, gentle and had a heart of pure gold. He will be dearly missed. May he rest in peace.
Such sad news. Frank was the epitome of what the games industry stood for at the beginning. His contribution to our business was immense, his character immersive and he will surely be missed.
I met Frank when I first entered the industry back in the mid 1990s. A wily but ever so likeable character.
Frank was a one of a kind. An extremely sharp financial exec, he used his prowess wisely. A great negotiator (he almost always got the best deal), but also fun to be with. Always a twinkle in the eye. He made sure everyone felt younger than he by calling them “young Joe”, “young Harry”, etc. His passion for raising money for Habab, the Israeli school for under-privileged boys, was relentless.
Over a number of years, nearly every company in the industry sponsored the annual USA vs UK amateur boxing gala at the Hilton on Park Lane. Frank managed to take a positive view of life, no matter what tribulations came his way.
He was a great Uncle Frank to me and to most. Someone we can truly look back and admire. Great business leader, great philanthropist, proud games industry veteran.
Frank, we will miss you.
Paul Street 1985. Portobello Road. Portland Road. Cromwell Road. Marylebone Road. Baker Street. Charlotte Street. Camden Town. Mill Hill. Bushey 2009.
Breakfasts, lunches, dinners. Pubs, cafes, restaurants. clubs, hotels. Tottenham. Twickenham. Chelsea. Abdul. Dim Sum in Bayswater. Royal China W1. Skate in W1 and E1. Lunchtime curry in W1. Competitor. Thorn in my side. On my case. Customer. Supplier. Invested in some of his things. He invested in some of mine. We invested together. Won and lost together.
“Empty vessels make the most noise. I need that like a third nostril. I’ll grow hairs on the palm of my hand first. You schmuck! Need you to do something for me. Where’s the cheque for the boxing match? Hello son. Glad to hear it. Hello, young Tim. He’s paying. You schmuck.”
BIG business man. BIG charity man. BIG family man. HUGE hearted man. SALT of the earth. SPECIAL beyond words. I miss you Frank.
“Hello son,” Frank would always say. Warm, smiling and interested, he was from the old school. A gentleman.
I don't know who first coined the phrase ‘Uncle Frank’. Perhaps we all did, unconsciously. No one ever questioned it. It just came to be for a man who commanded immediate respect.
Professionally, his years of experience and understanding of people and business helped him make a success in games, but it also helped us all. He did much for many. He was a presence in all our lives for 25 years.
Many wouldn't have even known it, but he has always been there in the background, shaping and influencing. Personally, he was a kind man who did huge amounts to support his friends and his adopted charity.
It came to be that the last time I spoke to Frank was within an hour of the last conversation I had with my father, as my dad was taken ill shortly afterwards. My dad was a special man. So was Frank.
Too often the word ‘legend’ is used to describe people, but Frank was a one off and worthy of the accolade.
For many who have come into this industry of late, Frank will be largely unknown.
Those of us who have been around a bit longer will tell you that he was a man who was treated with reverence. He touched so many people’s careers both directly and indirectly, it was really remarkable. Intelligent, diligent, an astute business man, tough and sometimes uncompromising. Dedicated to his work, but also spent many hours helping others through his charity work.
A devoted family man with a wicked sense of humour, he truly loved games and the games business. The man who never really grew up. Frank Herman is a true legend. A top gent to boot, who will be missed by many of us who owe so much to him.
I was 18 when I first worked at GT Interactive, on the reception and customer service area at the famous Old Grammar School. When I first met Frank I instantly liked the man; he was a very respected and in general he gave me a lot of tips and guidance.
I used to go running for him with a pocket full of coupons to collect his cigars, whilst he would be in various business meetings, which were all held from his 'Head Master’s Office'. Out of kindness he would buy me a sandwich or two!
He did a lot for charity and I very much enjoyed his events and having a quick catch up. He was always very interested in how I was getting on. He was a true gent and a grafter and he will be missed by a lot of people. They truly don't make men like him anymore, the mould was definitely broken.
My heart goes to all his family and very close friends.
I once interviewed Frank and his team for CTW, when Mastertronic launched. The vision of experienced guys steaming in with a revolutionarily-priced range of games (£1.99, gulp!) was beguiling. Only thing; the impact of a positive piece was ever-so-slightly diminished by a few typos. Worse, they were all in the surnames.
A combination of my dreadful handwriting/notetaking; a then lack of familiarity with ‘Frank Herman’ and his colleague ‘Alan Sharam’; and the world’s worst typesetting (yup: it was that far back!) meant that the piece was littered with quotes allegedly from ‘Harman’ and ‘Sherman’ and ‘Haman’. In fact, pretty much everything other than ‘Herman’.
Deeply embarrassed, I phoned Frank before he’d seen it to apologise. He laughed, uproariously…
A good man.
Frank Herman was far more than an industry legend; he was a friend, a colleague and an incredible human being. I still remember the first time I met Frank at his Sega offices when we tried to cajole him to join GT Interactive, which he and most people had never heard of at the time. However, after an hour’s time he knew exactly what we were trying to accomplish, understood our vision and was helping us lease space the next day. With Frank’s leadership GTI built a significant European presence in an incredibly short period of time.
What is it that we remember of Frank? I think everyone who knows him well would agree with me on this: he was always available with a full heart as a mentor and advisor in business and in life. And he touched numerous friends and colleagues over the years with absolutely no hidden agendas and expectation of anything in return.
I will forever be grateful for spending several years of my life with Frank as a friend and a colleague.
On my first day at Virgin Games back in 1989, Nick Alexander introduced me to Frank as “your new boss”.
Tossing a copy of science fiction epic Dune in my general direction, Frank’s first words to me were: “Make a game based on this by Easter.”
Over the next five years, Frank became both my mentor and a good friend, despite our opposing north London football allegiances.
A man of few words, but every one of them well considered and to the point. Frank was one of the most compassionate and considerate people it is my privilege to have known.
But he did not suffer fools gladly and had a temper on him when roused. My most vivid memory of Frank was during a trip to Paris in my second week at Virgin.
Having waited an age for a taxi at Charles De Gaulle airport we eventually found ourselves at the front of the queue only to witness two French businessmen jump ahead of us and into ‘our’ taxi.
Frank was not best pleased. As the door started to close, Frank wrenched it back open and dived into the taxi. Frank grabbed each man by their tie and pulled first one and then the other out of the taxi, dumping each unceremoniously onto the pavement.
“Shall we?” was all Frank said as he beckoned me into the now vacated taxi. That’s when I knew I was going to like my new boss.
Frank, you will be missed by everybody whose lives you enriched.
The more you did business with Frank, the more you became friends with him.
I was MD of Atoll (distributor of Sega in Benelux) when Frank decided to acquire us. It was a long, difficult and sometimes tense negotiation.
But Frank had an immense talent for making his point. He could confront any difficult issue and yet bring a smile to all faces at the end of the conversation.
Frank was a curious, competent and creative businessman. We will all miss his smile and his unexpected comments.
Goodbye my friend.
My first encounter with Frank was in his smoke-filled office in Paul Street. It was hard enough to see, let alone breathe, but once an hour he would let me stick my head out the window to grab a few lungfuls of relatively clean air.
Frank was managing director of Mastertronic and I was MD of Virgin Games. Eventually we bought his company and I spent the following six years trying to manage him, ultimately a futile task!
We spent much of that time together on planes, in meetings and restaurants and as I got to know him better I saw through the irascible and belligerent fug with which he could surround himself, to the generous, caring, big hearted family man who lurked beneath.
He was everybody’s Uncle Frank and the better I knew him the more I loved him, despite his sometimes best efforts to leave chaos in his wake.
His stories were many and splendid. My favourite was a self-deprecating one from the early 1970s when I was still at school and many MCV readers were not even born.
Frank had been follicly challenged from an early age and in his 20s had taken to wearing a wig. He was in a particularly difficult meeting in a long hot summer and was perspiring heavily in a suit and syrup.
The meeting was going nowhere and he asked his host if he could make himself comfortable. The man said yes, expecting Frank to take off his jacket. Instead, to the man’s amazement, he took off the wig and put it on the desk never to be worn again.
If God blesses anyone, it should be Frank.
Our Industry and the World will miss him greatly.
Frank headed up GT in the UK when they were buying one of our companies. He put us through a really tough due diligence process; gently making us jump through all sorts of burning hoops, one by one.
As some sort of poor attempt to counter negotiate, I had the audacity to ask him if we could also conduct a similar exercise on GT.
His reply stopped me in my tracks: “We don’t have any skeletons in the cupboard, son. In fact, we’re putting them in now…”
It was with much sadness that I heard of Frank’s passing away. Always known as Uncle Frank, he was a keen evangelist of thorough market understanding and knowledge.
When I took the step to start out on my own and leave corporate life, I turned to Frank for advice and he was extremely supportive of my vision. Indeed, I think it was his encouragement and belief which gave me the final push I needed.
We shall all miss his wisdom and experience, which made such an impact on our early lives in the industry.
Like everyone who knew him, Frank made an indelible impression on me.
He has left an equally large legacy in the video game industry, in which he will be remembered for a very long time.
Always cheerful and avuncular, but also sage and astute, Frank truly was a unique treasure. His passion for all things, whether business, social or charitable was an obvious trait… and if he could combine any of those with a good cigar, then so much the better! Due to the universal respect he inspired he was one of the few men – in a position of significant influence – about whom I have never heard a bad word spoken.
We’ll all miss you, Uncle Frank, and our thoughts are with your dear family at this terribly sad time.
I was proud to be a friend of Frank, from when I started my career at Sega in 1992. I remember nice moments, when he gave advice to me.
I will truly remember him as a pragmatic achiever, who has helped to take the international games industry to the next level.
The world will truly miss him.
Good times were never wasted in the company of Frank Herman. That would be the memory of Frank etched in my mind – Good Times.
Frank was ever the pragmatist, able to navigate the minefields laid by business prevention officers. He espoused a ‘win win’ culture and those who worshipped at the feet of ‘Uncle Frank’ steadily grew in number.
Beyond that, he was one of the boys and always reminded us of and asked after our families.
Corporate Raider, Space Invader, Mischief Maker, Property Speculator, Negotiator, Trader, Fund Raiser, Risk Taker… he could be all things to all men and was able to cross the cultural divide, galvanizing factions to come together.
He was never afraid to defy the rules and, armed with a cheeky grin, munching the wrong food, smoking and drinking, he defied the odds.
Many of us, taking our leave from a former headmaster’s study, headed out to lunch in the care of his driver (who never knowingly knew where he was going) to be regaled with the very latest industry news.
It was always fun between us. We also lived and shared the pain when it went against us and he was always amongst the first to call.
Business is business. It isn’t life or death and now he has taken his bow. I shall miss him, but the standing ovation will be heard for some time to come.
My deepest sympathy to Leila and his family.
‘Young Rod’ Cousens