Isaac Larian

Isaac Larian

date of birth : 28/03/1954 | date of death :
Born on March 28, 1954, Kashan, Iran, Founder and CEO, MGA Entertainment, is the Chief Executive Officer of MGA Entertainment, the biggest privately owned toy company in the world.

Birth, Birthplace, Time of birth:

Isaac Larian was born on March 28, 1954 in Kashan, Iran, to Iranian Jewish parents

Father's name: -
Mother's name: -
Brother: farhad
Spouse: Angela Neman
Children: Cameron Larian, Jason Larian, Jasmin Larian

Personal Information:

Source of Wealth: toys, Self Made
Net worth: US$ 1.2 billion (March 2014)

Life events:

Early life

Isaac Larian was born on March 28, 1954 in Kashan, Iran, to Iranian Jewish parents. After attending Kharazmi High School in Tehran, at the age of seventeen he decided to move to the United States to pursue a better education. He immigrated to Los Angeles with only $750 in his pocket and found a job at a diner while earning a civil engineering degree from the California State University. After college, in 1979, Larian and his brother began the company that eventually became MGA.


He began by importing electronics and in 1987 started on his path to success with a line of handheld games based around characters licensed from Nintendo. With the release of his first doll, Singing Bouncing Baby, ten years later, Isaac Larian was on his way to dominating the toy industry. A business-oriented mentality had been instilled into Isaac from a young age. He had worked at his father’s textile business as a youth, and there he was influenced by a strong work ethic and sense of integrity. He has said, “I bring that sense of responsibility with me to work every day and I make sure it is a big part of my personal life as well.”

Highlighted period

MGA Entertainment, Isaac Larian’s company (his title is Chief Executive Officer), as it has been known since 1998, is currently the largest privately owned toy company in the world and the creative force behind the wildly successful Bratz dolls. The Bratz dolls have surpassed even Barbie herself as the most popular dolls for young teenage girls; the franchise has even spawned a film and a plethora of other merchandise. Larian began his company as a licensee for other products, but quickly realized that the real potential for success lay in building his own brands and in pursuing new and creative ideas. Today, the company manufactures more than twenty product lines of toys, games, dolls, electronics, sporting goods, and more. Mr. Larian has said of MGA Entertainment, “Our philosophy is that we don’t think of ourselves as just a toy company but as a consumer entertainment products company.”“In the USA, I have had the opportunity to live the true American dream and open my eyes to the possibility of making my wishes a true reality,” says Larian. “Living in a democratic society has provided me with freedom of expression and competition, which is a driving factor for success.”He has certainly had his share of competition, particularly from Mattel, the makers of Barbie. In an interview with Business Week Magazine, Larian said of his competitor, “Mattel can’t even say our name. They call us ‘our nearest competitor.’ I’m thinking of changing our company name to MNC Entertainment – Mattel’s Nearest Competitor!” He has famously said, “It is time for Barbie to retire, I mean, even Michael Jordan retired.” Indeed, while Bratz has risen to a billion dollar franchise, the sales of many other toy companies have plummeted and some manufacturers were forced to go back to the drawing board to try and create an edgier doll geared more towards older girls – in other words, a Bratz-like doll. What is Isaac Larian’s secret to his incredible success? “The consumers see, they demand detail, design innovation,” says Larian. “We have been able to provide that to them, and, as a result, they have rewarded us with their pocketbooks.” He has said that listening to what consumers want and need and then creating a product based on those desires and needs is his modus operandi. It may seem simple, but it takes a great deal of effort and understanding. His motto, “Fortune favors the bold” is on display all throughout MGA’s offices and is a constant reminder of how Larian has followed his instincts and tenaciously gone after his goals. Of course, every successful person shows the influence of those around him or her, those who have inspired and taught. For Larian, these include his father for his “good heart and loving life,” and his mother for her “hard work and passion.” He also credits Mr. Arakawa (ex Chairman of Nintendo) for “teaching me to make the best product that consumers want and retailers have no choice but to buy.” There were also books that made an impact on him, including How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie; and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Steven Covey. Immigrating to the United States also changed the course of Larian’s life. “I have learned that nothing in life is perfect,” he says. “But being in the USA has been good to me. I am grateful.” He goes on to say that nothing can be accomplished without hard work. There may be many open doors, according to Isaac Larian, but a person must take initiative and pursue his/her dreams in an active way. As is the case for most immigrants, Larian faced difficulties when adapting to life in America. “The most important difficulty that one must battle is self doubt. With confidence you are more likely to believe in yourself and realize your ideas and aspirations,” he says. For each person, the hurdles facing an immigrant are difficult to overcome and the time it takes to adapt varies, but the advice that Larian gives to his fellow Iranian Americans in the pursuit of their dreams is valuable regardless of individual circumstance: “Lead and don’t follow; dream and believe in your dream; don’t be afraid of failure; when you fail; learn from it; get up and do it again and do it better.”With his sales increasing 7% last year (while Barbie sales decreased 15% just in the first quarter) and his company currently holding 350 licensees, Isaac Larian has certainly lived by his own advice.

Later years

He currently has 500 employees and “continues to run MGA Entertainment with the same entrepreneurial focus.” He spends a great deal of time brainstorming as well as utilizing focus groups comprised of girls themselves who are quite vocal about the kinds of products they want. His business strategies seem to be working. He has expanded his demographic and is now creating products for toddlers and younger children. His company has also introduced an inexpensive digital music player designed for little girls. He has even created a Bratz cell phone for little girls, both a fun and useful product that appeals to both the tweens (teens/twins?) and their parents. “Our goal,” he insists, “is to grow both horizontally and vertically.” With creative additions to currently existing product lines as well as expansion into new territory, he has done just that. For his incredible entrepreneurial success and achievements, Isaac Larian was named the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004, and in 2007 he was the overall national winner as well as the winner in the Retail and Consumer Products Category. The award is given to leaders who “demonstrate innovation, financial success and personal commitment as they create and build world-class businesses.”Bratz dolls are at the forefront of Larian’s success. These fashion-conscious dolls were introduced at a time when younger girls were becoming more and more interested in staying abreast of the latest trends and styles. The Bratz dolls won Family Fun magazine’s Toy of the Year Award four years in a row. “There’s no question that he has had phenomenal success,” says Thomas P. Conley, president of the Toy Industry Association (TIA). Two of the dolls are named after Larian’s children, son Cameron and daughter Jasmin (although the doll uses the Persian spelling of Yasmin).Larian says, “The reason America is unique is the vast availability of resources and opportunities that it provides. There is relative freedom which makes it easier for one to come up with ideas and turn them into accomplishments. Not everything works out the way you expect it to, so you must adapt to your surroundings and make adjustments in your life. People can have many ideas in their minds, but once you get the chance to say them out loud and work with others you can actually make a difference in the world you live in.” This way of thinking has propelled Larian’s ideas and dreams into reality. With his success, he values the ability to “make a difference in the world” by not only creating great products, but also by being involved in many philanthropic organizations. Throughout all of his accomplishments and achievements, Isaac Larian has not abandoned his heritage. He says, “My culture is a big part of who I am and I could never let go of my history.” He also displays his pride in his Iranian American identity. Iranian Americans are one of the most educated and ambitious immigrant groups in the United States, according to Larian. Not only do they have a great work ethic which enables them to work toward their goals without losing focus, but they have also had a positive financial and cultural impact in this country. “[Iranian Americans] are competitive and they want to succeed,” he says. “[And] more and more Americans now know who Rumi is and study his mystical work!”Isaac Larian embodies this description of the successful Iranian American immigrant as well as the American Dream. His hard work, tenacity, and perseverance have put him at the top of his game, head of one of the most successful private toy companies in the world. His words of wisdom are an inspiration to other people, not only immigrants, who strive to make something out of nothing: “When you come from little and from the bottom, the only way available is to go up. You have to set goals and work hard to reach them.”


After attending Kharazmi High School in Tehran, at the age of seventeen he decided to move to the United States to pursue a better education. He immigrated to Los Angeles with only $750 in his pocket and found a job at a diner while earning a civil engineering degree from the California State University.

Occupation and Career:

Isaac Larian is founder and CEO, MGA Entertainment. His fortune comes from toymaker MGA Entertainment, which produces the thriving Little Tikes line, Bratz dolls and the newly popular Lalaloopsy dolls. The company has been embroiled in a longtime battle with Barbie-maker Mattel. Nearly a decade ago Mattel claimed that it owned MGA's miniskirt-clad Bratz because it believed the doll's designer had come up with the concept while on the Mattel payroll. Mattel lost that claim and now MGA is pursuing a court case against Mattel that includes allegations of corporate espionage at the annual Toy Fair in New York. Larian left Iran in 1971 on a one-way ticket, then put himself through Cal State, Los Angeles, as a waiter. He started an import-export business, shipping brass lawn ornaments, with his brother. MGA expanded into importing electronics (notably Nintendo's early handheld videogame systems) and eventually into designing toys. MGA's company motto: Fortune favors the bold. Indeed it does.

Quotes and Memoirs:

Our goal is to grow both horizontally and vertically.
Our philosophy is that we don't think of ourselves as just a toy company but as a consumer entertainment products company. It even says that on our business cards and that's the direction that we're heading in.
We don't look at ourselves as a toy company. The toy market, to be frank, is just shrinking.
They see, they demand detail, design innovation. We have been able to provide that to them, and, as a result, they have rewarded us with their pocketbooks. It is time for Barbie to retire. I mean, even Michael Jordan retired.