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Warren Buffett says the married couple behind the maker of Squishmallows are 'ideal Berkshire managers'

Filip De Mott   

Warren Buffett says the married couple behind the maker of Squishmallows are 'ideal Berkshire managers'
  • Warren Buffett praised the couple who acquired Squishmallows and made the toy an internet sensation.
  • Berkshire Hathaway owns Jazwares after acquiring the parent company in October.

The couple who bought Squishmallows and launched the toy into internet stardom also have a fan in investing legend Warren Buffett.

Judd and Laura Zebersky run Jazwares, whose parent company was bought by Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway last fall.

"Jazwares is a gem," Buffett told Reuters through email. "And, Judd and Laura are the ideal Berkshire managers."

Though Berkshire Hathaway holds stakes in a number of toy makers that made an appearance during the company's annual meeting earlier this month, the Squishmallow plushie was especially popular.

Squishmallows made to look like Buffett and longtime partner Charlie Munger sold at $10 during the meeting, with some later appearing on eBay for $450.

But consumer enthusiasm for the toy has earlier origins. Introduced by Kellytoy in 2017, Jazwares took over the company and realized the plushies could be a great hit with the right marketing, according to Reuters.

Through TikTok and Reddit, Squishmallows quickly gained a following, as collectors shared their toys and influencers joined the trend. In 2021, Jazwares generated sales of more than $1 billion, with 40% coming from Squishmallows.

"This was a brand that needed a lot of love," Judd Zebersky told Reuters. "It struck a nerve, and when you strike a nerve in the toy industry, great things can happen."

He founded Jazwares in 1997, after finding a life in litigation unappealing. He was followed by his wife eight years later, who sold her law firm in 2005 and became Jazwares' president.

In order to expand, the company sold a minority stake to Alleghany, which turned into a majority stake two years later. Alleghany was acquired by Berkshire last October for nearly $12 billion, placing Jazwares under Buffett's umbrella.

The Zeberskys now report to Greg Abel, a Berkshire vice chairman who is to be Buffett's successor as CEO.

"Greg is exactly what we have all learned about the Berkshire model," Laura Zebersky told Reuters. "He lets us run our business, he lets us operate in the way we see best."


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