Cartwheel Kids Acquires Smart Toy
Cartwheel Kids has acquired Smart Toy, formerly known as Ubooly.
The acquisition is in line with Cartwheel Kids’ strategy to expand its product portfolio into new categories that deliver meaningful play experiences to children, according to Sunny Lauridsen, senior vice-president of sales and marketing for Cartwheel Kids. “Smart Toy is leveraging today’s technology to make toys more engaging while managing to keep the experience simple,” she says. “Their expertise in software development and razor-sharp focus on improving the user experience is unparalleled. We’re uniquely positioned to make a major impact on the toy industry.”
Created in 2012 by husband-and-wife team Isaac Squires and Carly Gloge, Smart Toy is an interactive, huggable plush toy that uses apps and speech recognition software to interact with children. It encourages creative, active play by telling stories, embarking on adventures, and guiding activities. It also speaks five different languages. Smart Toy was selected to participate in the first-ever Disney Accelerator program and is showcasing its next-generation product at the organization’s Demo Day. Gloge and Squires will join the Cartwheel Kids team as directors of technology and will continue to oversee development of the Smart Toy product line. Additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Day 6 Sports Group Acquires Backyard Sports, Taps Industry Vets
The newly formed sports and entertainment brand, Day 6 Sports Group, has announced the acquisition of Backyard Sports, a video game introduced in 1997 by Atari, that quickly became one of the most in-demand franchises, selling more than 15 million copies worldwide. The brand features pro-athletes playing in the backyard.
In addition, the company has also brought on industry vets, Ronnie Frankowski and James Knight, to helm its mission of creating better opportunities for sports fans to lead healthier lifestyles through its roster of social, active brands.
Frankowski, CMO, a marketing expert in the sports and entertainment field joins Day 6 Sports Group after working in leadership roles at Mattel, Nike, and Spin Master. In his most recent post at Spin Master, he spent several years expanding the business out of its L.A. office.
Knight, CCO, has climbed the creative ladder at LEGO Group, Spin Master, and Mattel to provide results-driven work and a string of innovative hits. Knight has more than 15 years experience working in various design departments for several notable brands on a global scale, including Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Tech Deck, and Bakugan.
Knight and Frankowski previously worked together at Spin Master (L.A.), where the pair opened the office and ran the design and marketing teams for L.A.-base brands.
TRU Grows Online Business Abroad
Toys “R” Us (TRU) has launched a new e-commerce site, www.toysrus.pl, in Poland, adding to its growing portfolio of global online stores. The company currently operates eight TRU locations in the country, and the web store extends the brand’s reach to a greater customer base. Establishing an e-commerce presence will allow consumers to shop thousands of toy and baby products, including items and exclusive merchandise only available online, and have them delivered directly to their doorsteps. In conjunction with the launch, the company will also introduce a mobile-optimized website in the coming weeks. Online orders will be fulfilled directly from the company’s “Ship from Store” program.
With the launch of the company’s Poland web store and upcoming mobile-optimized site, TRU now operates online stores and mobile-optimized sites in 14 countries around the world. TRU established business operations in Poland in 2011 with the opening of its headquarters and first store in Warsaw. Since then, the company has opened seven additional Toys “R” Us stores in major cities throughout the country, including Gdańsk, Krakow, Lublin, Poznan, Rzeszów, Szczecin and Wroclaw.
CEA Unveils First International Event for 2015
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) will kick off its first CES Unveiled international event for 2015 in Tokyo. This new products and technology news showcase will take place on Wednesday, February 18, 2015. It will be followed by events in several other international cities throughout the year. According to the CEA, the CES Unveiled series aims to bring innovative technology companies, top media, buyers, analysts, and key industry influencers together to highlight and review new products and tech trends originating at the International CES, which will run in Las Vegas, January 6-9, 2015.