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Isaac Larian
Born March 28, 1954 (1954-03-28) (age 67)
Education B.S. Civil Engineering (1978) California State University, Los Angeles
Occupation Founder and CEO, MGA Entertainment
Net worth US$ 1.1 billion (April 2019)
Spouse(s) Angela Neman
Children 3

Isaac Larian (born March 28, 1954) is an Iranian-born American billionaire businessman, and the chief executive officer (CEO) of MGA Entertainment, the world's largest privately-owned toy company.

Biography

Born to a Jewish family in Kashan, Iran, Larians family relocated to Tehran at the age of 4 where they lived in the Tehran slum known as Narmak. His father had a small textile shop where Larian began working at the age of 9. In search of opportunity, Larian arrived to the United States alone in 1971 at the age of 17, without a place to stay, unable to speak english, and with $750 to his name. He managed to find work as a dishwasher making $1.65 an hour, eventually being promoted to bus-boy and then waiter within the year. After a year of work, he was able to enroll at Los Angeles Southwest College, later transferring to California State University, Los Angeles and graduating in 1978 with a degree in civil engineering.

After his plans to return to Iran were ended by the 1979 Iranian Revolution., Larian started a mail-order company called Surprise Gift Wagon that sold decorative brass products from Asia. Unsuccessful in that venture, he shifted gears focusing instead of importing consumer electronics with his brother Fred in a company that was later called ABC Electronics. In 1987, they became a distributor for Nintendo and in 1993, they became a licensee for the "Power Rangers." In 1997, toys became their focus and they had their first internal success with the Singing Bouncy Baby. In 1998, he changed his company’s name to MGA Entertainment and in 2001, MGA developed the "Bratz" doll. In 2005, Bratz sales totaled $800 million well ahead of their main rival, Barbie with $445 million in sales. In 2004, Mattel sued MGA alleging that the designer of the Bratz doll had developed the concept while working for Mattel and that MGA had paid Mattel employees to work on MGA projects. MGA counter sued alleging that Mattel spied on its salesmen by masquerading as toy buyers, re-positioned Bratz displays in retail stores to less favorable arrangements, and that Mattel paid retailers to favor Barbie over Bratz.

In August 2011 Mattel was ordered to pay MGA $310 million for attorney fees, stealing trade secrets, and false claims. Due to a technical procedural issue having nothing to do with the merits of the claims, the Ninth Circuit vacated without prejudice the $170 million portion of the judgment against Mattel for this misconduct. In January 2014, MGA filed a complaint for these claims in State court in California seeking in excess of $1 billion and this lawsuit is currently pending. In November 2006, MGA purchased the manufacturer of toddler and preshcool toys, Little Tikes. In 2010, MGA released the successful "Lalaloopsy" doll.

In March 2018, Larian launched a GoFundMe campaign to acquire Toys "R" Us after news broke out of them declaring bankruptcy. Larian posted $200 million of his own money to get the campaign running, and a goal of $1 billion was set. According to the campaign description, all the money raised would be used in the formulation of a bid to acquire some of the company's assets throughout the bankruptcy process. The campaign has a deadline of May 28, 2018, Memorial Day. Any donations from supporters of the campaign would only be donations and would not result in donors receiving equity in any potential acquisition of the company. On April 13, Larian placed a bid of $890 million: $675 million to buy 274 Toys R Us stores in the US, and $215 million to acquire 82 Canadian stores.

In June 2020, Larian made headlines when he tweeted that artist and influencer Amina Mucciolo was "a disgrace to Black people." Mucci has accused MGA of stealing her likeness for a doll without permission or compensation.

Accolades

He was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the consumer products category in 2004. He was also named the overall national Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007. His motto, "Fortune favors the bold" is displayed throughout MGA's building.

Personal life

He is married, with three children, and lives in Los Angeles.

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