Goldner was born on April 21, 1963. He attended Huntington High School and Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, where he majored in politics. There he practiced public speaking and was also a radio DJ.
Goldner began his career as a marketing assistant at a healthcare firm in Long Island in 1985. In 1997, Goldner was set to head JWT's entertainment accountant division, but he was lured away by Bandai.
Goldner was working at Hasbro's Tiger Electronics unit in 2000, after the company had lost 5,000 jobs. By 2003, the company recovered on the stock market, and in 2008 Goldner became Hasbro's chief operating officer.
He served as executive producer on the successful 2007 Transformers film adaptation, which was credited for broadening Hasbro into a character-based multimedia company. He continued this role on the 2009 films Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
Goldner compared the move of these characters to cinema during his tenure to the way they had expanded from mere adverts to television series in the 1980s. In 2012, Goldner's pay package was estimated to be around $9.68 million. In 2008, the year of his promotion, Goldner was named CEO of the year by MarketWatch.com.