Isaac Larian crowdfunds the save of Toys R Us stores

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Isaac Larian crowdfunds the save of Toys R Us stores
Image credit: Flickr (CC) / Mack Male

At this stage it looks like Toys R Us is not coming back. But Isaac Larian wants to try and change that. He’s the CEO of MGA Entertainment and now wants to save at least some Toys R Us stores. And he wants a crowdfund effort.

The 64-year-old toy magnate did a small attention-grabbing event at a Toys R Us store in Woodland Hills last week. This was one of his first public events after last month he announced he wants to save Toys R Us.

He says he has pledged $100 million of his own money, the Los Angeles Times reports. And he also adds he has secured another $100 million from investors. But he still needs a total of $1 billion to be able to keep 200 to 400 Toys R Us stores in the US open. They will work under the Canadian branch if the court allows.

Larian estimates he has to make a deal until early May. Thus Larian has about a month to raise $800 million from people through GoFundMe. That’s quite the challenge.

“If any of his investor friends would want to contribute, they would not contribute on the GoFundMe page,” said Andreea Gorbatai, an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “They would pitch in for equity, so attention seems like the only thing he’s looking to get out of this.”

Larian replies there’s nothing wrong with gathering attention. He also says he doesn’t really expect to raise $800 million from people. But any amount helps. Plus, the attention is already paying off and is attracting big investors.

“They have not come and said, ‘I’m going to give you $100 million or $50 million,’ but these are very, very high net worth individuals who for them to write a check for $300 million or $400 million is not a problem,” Larian said.

Fans have already gathered about $50 000 through the GoFundMe campaign. It’s far from enough, but it shows that people do care enough to save Toys R Us. And it’s a rare thing to see people care for a company that much.