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Innovation: Spin Master Creates $100 Million Toy Tech Venture Fund

Canadian-based global toy giant Spin Master Corp. is placing a $100 million bet on the future, creating a venture fund for innovation.

The toyco announced the new fund this week, saying it’s goal is to “accelerate growth in each of the Company’s three creative centres comprising Toys, Entertainment and Digital Games, through strategic minority investments.”

The company also says its investment mandate will be centered on medium and long-term trends, including emerging technologies, pioneering services, and other areas where Spin Master’s offering can be strengthened.

“We’ve always stayed true to our entrepreneurial DNA based on innovation, openness to ideas, partnerships and pushing boundaries,” said Ronnen Harary, Spin Master’s Co-Founder and Board Chair. “The pace of innovation within the toys, entertainment and digital games industries is accelerating rapidly and by investing with a long-term view in leading ventures with promising ideas, we can increase our access to potentially game-changing thinking and concepts.

“Spin Master Ventures will establish us as the partner of choice for entrepreneurs looking for capital to start and grow a business in the kids’ space and will complement our acquisition strategy as well as bolster our product development pipeline.”

SMV will be led by experienced industry veterans, with a deep focus by creative centre. Spin Master will initially allocate $100 million to SMV, funded from existing internal resources. SMV’s strategy will comprise minority investments and will include both early-stage companies, with investments in new teams and novel ideas, as well as providing growth capital to emerging business that have proven product and market fit. SMV’s geographic focus will be global but will be North American and Europe-centric initially.

To launch the initiative, SMV has made minority investments in two companies aligned with Spin Master’s  growth plans within the Digital Games creative centre.

One of those is Nørdlight, a mobile game development company based in Stockholm, which is comprised of a five-person team with over 50 years of experience in the mobile games industry.

Despite its small size, Nørdlight’s team have delivered some of the largest grossing mobile digital games in history, including running the prototype team at and leading the technology and art for digital games titles including Candy Crush Saga. Nørdlight will help accelerate Spin Master’s strategy of monetizing its owned IP in the digital games space.

The second investment is in Hoot Reading, an online tutoring service that provides children with live, one-to-one reading lessons with experienced teachers.

The research-based service connects kids with real classroom teachers to advance their reading skills through a video chat platform that allows for real-time on-screen collaboration between the child and teacher. The company is headquartered in Canada and has teachers and students throughout North America. Using personalized and engaging lessons and a carefully curated library of more than 2,000 high-quality levelled texts, Hoot Reading aims to help as many kids as possible to become not only proficient, but excellent readers.

“Establishing Spin Master Ventures enables Spin Master to work with extraordinary companies and teams, providing them with capital and access to our deep knowledge and expertise to drive their ideas and businesses forward,” explained Anton Rabie, Spin Master’s Co-Founder and Director. “Spin Master Ventures aims to become the ultimate partnership generator, a tool for widening the Company’s networks, knowledge and relationships. By partnering with these entrepreneurs, we can bolster our leadership position within the children’s entertainment industry.”

Spin Master is already among the world’s top toy and entertainment companies, and is best known for its PAW Patrol brand, but it also produces several other top-sellers, including Bakugan, Air Hogs, Hatchimals, Rubik’s Cube and the plush toy line GUND. Spin Master is also the toy licensee for other popular properties, while Spin Master Entertainment creates and produces compelling multiplatform content, stories and characters through its in-house studio and partnerships with outside creators. In addition to being a top toy line, PAW Patrol is one of the world’s top TV series for young children.

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