October 12, 2022
Lego owner Kirkbi is buying U.S. video-learning firm BrainPOP for $875 million, according to the companies, as the family behind the world’s largest toy maker expands into the education business, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The Danish company said the purchase of BrainPOP—which produces short animations used in schools to help children learn everything from math to music—was part of a plan to build a new business pillar. The deal—through which Kirkbi is acquiring BrainPOP’s owner FWD Media—was expected to close on Tuesday, October 11, the companies said.
“We are definitely on the path to establishing the Lego idea of learning through play in the formal education space,” said Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, executive chairman of the Lego Brand Group, the Kirkbi entity that oversees the toy brand.
Kirkbi owns 75% of Lego, whose colorful plastic toy bricks are used by millions of children around the world. It also operates Lego Education, a unit that produces Lego brick sets designed for use in classrooms.
News of the deal comes after Lego last month reported double-digit revenue growth for the first half of the year, brushing aside economic worries to cement its industry sales lead over U.S. rivals Hasbro and Mattel.
When it comes to the business of learning, Kirkbi has made roughly 15 minority investments in education-technology companies over the past five years as it started to explore the market, Knudstorp said. He was then challenged by Kirkbi’s owners, the Kirk Kristiansen family, to move beyond the venture-capital model and find a more mature company to invest in or buy, he said.
New-York based BrainPOP, also family owned and with a sizable user base, emerged as a good fit, Knudstorp said. “This is a company that has substance; it has real know-how to engage children and make them curious and interested,” he said.
BrainPOP’s videos, which feature characters such as Moby the robot and usually last around six minutes, reach 25 million children annually across two-thirds of U.S. school districts, the company says. Video topics include math, science, and the arts, among other subjects, and are aimed at different grades.
The sale to Kirkbi gives BrainPOP the opportunity to grow further, said Scott Kirkpatrick, who will continue in his role as BrainPOP’s chief executive. Knudstorp will chair the company.
Kirpatrick hopes that Kirkbi guidance can help BrainPOP to sell more subscriptions directly to consumers, as parents seek more “meaningful screen time” for children at home.
Research contact: @WSJ