Why Mattel’s New CEO Wants to Make a Live-Action Barbie


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Technology is not always the answer.

A ways back I shared a startling takeaway from Phil Wahba’s fine peek into Target’s turnaround: CEO Brian Cornell (who does not look 60) had de-emphasized innovation for innovation’s sake.

Today I write with a similar observation about the possible turnaround at Mattel, where newish CEO Ynon Kreiz (rhymes with “cries”) is emphasizing the toy company’s intellectual property over digitizing play. This is in contrast to Kreiz’s predecessor, the former Google executive Margo Georgiadis, who understandably brought a Silicon Valley mindset to the iconic, if perennially troubled, company.

I first got interested in Kreiz around the time he announced Mattel would make a live-action movie about Barbie, still Mattel’s most important franchise. Kreiz has been around the media block, working for the likes of Haim Saban and (less directly) Bob Iger. He recognized that Mattel could move merchandise better if its great and not-so-great brands got the film-and-TV treatment.

Kreiz has made great strides in cutting costs at Mattel and is pumping life into its moviemaking aspirations, all of which are nascent. He’s not ignoring tech: Hot Wheels, for example, has a new, chip-embedded aspect. But getting a technology edge is difficult, as is building great brands.


Breakingviews.com’s Robert Cyran made a great observation Monday, when eBay announce its sell of StubHub: The online auction pioneer has proven to be a far better venture capital firm than e-commerce operator. eBay blew a big lead to Amazon. But its purchases and investments in the likes of PayPal, Skype, and Flipkart have been world-beating.


Speaking of old, behind-the-curve Silicon Valley companies, here’s a line from the earnings release of HPE—that’s the piece of the old Hewlett-Packard that Xerox is not trying to buy—that no technology company really wants to brag about: “Revenue: $7.2 billion, stable for the last three quarters.”


As tomorrow you’ll hear from Aaron, and after that Data Sheet will take a breather until Monday: Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Adam Lashinsky

Twitter: @adamlashinsky

Email: adam_lashinsky@fortune.com

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman.

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