LEGO has today announced its acquisition of BrickLink. Read the full press release and our interview on this subject with Julia Goldin, Global Chief Marketing Officer at The LEGO Group, here:
The LEGO Group acquires BrickLink, the world’s largest online LEGO fan community and marketplace to strengthen ties with adult fans.
Acquisition will strengthen the LEGO Group’s engagement with its growing community of adult fans.
BILLUND, Denmark, November 26, 2019: The LEGO Group today announced it has acquired BrickLink Ltd (www.bricklink.com), the world’s largest online community of adult LEGO fans from NXMH LLC to strengthen its connection with its important adult fan base.
The BrickLink platform has more than one million members and comprises an online marketplace of more than 10,000 stores from 70 countries; a digital building software where builders can design and showcase their creations; and a vibrant online community where fans share ideas and builds.
The platform was founded in 2000 by Dan Jezek as a way to connect like-minded adult LEGO fans from around the world. It was acquired in 2013 by NXMH, which is owned by Korean entrepreneur Jung-Ju “Jay” Kim. BrickLink is headquartered in Irvine, California.
The LEGO Group CEO, Niels B Christiansen said: “Our adult fans are extremely important to us. They are passionate, committed and endlessly creative. We have worked closely with the community for many years and look forward to deepening our collaboration through BrickLink. We plan to continue to support the active marketplace and evolve BrickLink’s digital studio which allows our talented fans to take their creativity to the next level.”
Jung-Ju “Jay” Kim, owner of NXMH, said: “It has been a privilege to lead the transformation of BrickLink during the past six years. I am grateful to the community for being so welcoming, supportive and constructive. I am constantly amazed by everyone’s endless creativity and their love for building. I am confident the platform will be in good hands with the LEGO Group. As a fan myself, I can’t wait to see what’s next.”
The LEGO Group’s Chief Marketing Officer, Julia Goldin, said: “BrickLink provides the LEGO Group with a unique opportunity to connect with adult fans through new channels and exciting experiences. We’ve recently collaborated with BrickLink on a range of crowd-sourced sets to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the brick. We learned a lot and are keen to explore more ways of working together to create value. We look forward to collaborating further with our adult fans, while retaining and nurturing the independent spirit of the digital platform.”
The acquisition also includes Sohobricks which makes small batches of building elements.
Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Closing is expected to occur before the end of 2019.
We had an opportunity to speak with Julia Goldin, Global Chief Marketing Officer at The LEGO Group, about this acquisition yesterday.
Brickset: What has prompted LEGO's decision to acquire BrickLink?
Julia: Our love and appreciation for adult fans of LEGO. They have always been very important to us and have contributed so much to helping us build the brand. We feel that we can engage with them in a much deeper way through the ownership of BrickLink. That will enable us to focus our own capabilities and the strength of the LEGO brand to understand better what members of the community want and to improve our service towards them.
Moreover, the acquisition will create an even stronger connection for LEGO to learn from adult fans and we hope this will become an excellent platform to improve that relationship. BrickLink’s global audience is also important, enabling us to broaden our reach to AFOLs around the world.
Can you provide any specific information about how this will improve the relationship between LEGO and adult fans?
Julia: There are many different possibilities but it is too early to give any certain information at the moment. We already piloted the AFOL designer program last year with fantastic results and we can see that there is ample opportunity to support MOCs, particularly with regard to crowdsourcing and insights concerning how we can develop the LEGO System of Play. I believe those are the main things that will emerge in the future.
Do you envisage LEGO making any changes to BrickLink?
Julia: BrickLink has been an extremely successful organisation, inspired by the strong vision from Dan [Jezek] and fuelled by the very committed and passionate people who run the website today. We do not therefore anticipate making any changes. Instead, we hope to support them and maintain some of that independent spirit.
Of course, we will also want to introduce continued improvements and expand the opportunities which are provided to AFOLs through BrickLink. I certainly see some possibilities for development, progress and evolution in those areas, with input from the community.
How might this affect LEGO's existing methods for selling individual parts, such as Bricks and Pieces?
Julia: BrickLink provides an opportunity for us to better understand what needs people have. There are no plans for immediate changes but I think there is potential to evolve and improve that service within LEGO to the AFOL community. At the moment, we have various methods of providing bulk or individual brick purchasing but BrickLink could certainly assist us with continuing development.
Could this acquisition result in any price changes or price setting on BrickLink?
Julia: There are absolutely no plans to change transaction fees or anything like that.
Might there be any influence from LEGO in how elements should be valued, potentially affecting the existing competition between BrickLink stores?
Julia: No. We would seek to maintain the marketplace in a way that is competitively robust and we will continue to allow sellers to operate as they are doing already. LEGO will not be interfering with that in any way.
Can we therefore anticipate that LEGO’s involvement with the BrickLink marketplace will be relatively light?
Julia: Yes, our primary goal with this partnership is to deepen our connection and relationship with adult fans and to service the community more effectively. There is definitely opportunity to enable fans to celebrate their creations more widely, perhaps reaching broader audiences than have been possible previously, for example.
The recent AFOL Designer Program pilot clearly demonstrated the enormous desire which fans have to design their own models. Providing further opportunities there would be our priority, rather than interfering with the marketplace.
Finally, how would you reassure fans who might be nervous about LEGO acquiring BrickLink, given its close integration with fans?
Julia: My first comment would be to emphasise that our acquisition of BrickLink is driven by desire to support our fans more effectively. There should be no concerns about our interference as we realise the platform already works extremely well for many people. I must also mention that our reason for doing this is because we believe there are opportunities to make improvements and respond directly to what the fans really want from LEGO.
What is your response to this interesting news? Let us know in the comments.