100 million Squishmallows sold in a year — How the toy sensation joined Warren Buffett’s conglomerate

by | Jul 2, 2023 | Financial

An image of Warren Buffett at the Berkshire Hathaway Shopping Day, May 5, 2023.Yun Li | CNBCShrewd business legend Warren Buffett has a whimsical side, buying companies whose products he personally enjoys like Dairy Queen and See’s Candies. Now count plush toy phenomenon Squishmallows.Squishmallows made its Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting debut this year in Omaha, Nebraska, with shareholders snapping up 10,000 snuggly dolls in the span of hours, including ones modeled after the “Oracle of Omaha” and his longtime business partner Charlie Munger. Berkshire inherited Squishmallows parent Jazwares through its acquisition of Alleghany in the fourth quarter of 2022.Jazwares founder and president, Judd and Laura Zebersky, now report to and are in regular communication with Greg Abel, Berkshire’s vice chairman for non-insurance operations and Buffett’s successor. The South Florida-based couple, who are lawyers-turned-toy-entrepreneurs, said they are excited to be under the Berkshire umbrella and enjoy having the autonomy to run their own business.”It’s an amazing structure. We’re thrilled to be part of it,” Laura Zebersky said in an interview. “It’s better than we could have ever anticipated and being around the greatest leaders in the world is phenomenal, and being able to explore the synergies is also something we are interested in.”The 92-year-old Buffett sang Abel’s praises recently, saying he’s taken on most of the responsibilities. Abel has been overseeing a major portion of Berkshire’s sprawling empire, including energy, railroad and retail.While Buffett only got into Jazwares indirectly through Alleghany, he has shown the willingness to invest in far smaller businesses that don’t have the heft to move the needle in terms of Berkshire’s massive earnings and revenue. Often Buffett admires the business’ management and expects it to continue to grow and remain profitable.Zoom In IconArrows pointing outwardsA whopping 100 million Squishmallow units — with prices ranging from $5 to $30 — were sold last year alone. Laura Zebersky said the pandemic turbocharged Squishmallows’ growth. Endorsements from celebrities from Kim Kardashian to Lady Gaga on TikTok also helped.”The idea of having something that was nurturing, cozy, cuddly, it was affordable and accessible. Instant gratification,” Zebersky said. “We really touch on all w …

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