“Lego® Group Acquires BrickLink,” by S.M. O’Connor

In order to strengthen ties with A.F.O.L.s (Adult Fan of LEGO®), Lego A/S doing business as The LEGO® Group, announced on Monday, November 25, 2019 the acquisition of BrickLink, Ltd. from NXMH.  Founded by Dan Jezek (1977-2010) in April of 2000, BrickLink is the world’s largest LEGO® online A.F.O.L. community and marketplace.  Headquartered in Irvine, California, the Website is a platform that has over 1,000,000 members and compromises an online marketplace of over 10,000 stores from seventy countries, digital building software that enables builders to design and showcase their creations, and an online community where A.F.O.L.s share ideas and “builds” (models). 

BrickLink enables A.F.O.L.s to share pictures and designs of their custom creations; to sell each other loose Minifigures™, other LEGO® bricks or other elements, and whole sets that were formerly sold in LEGO® Stores and toyshops; and to discuss all things LEGO-related.  Consequently, if an adult wants to purchase a set that is no longer being produced, possibly from a theme (product line) that is no longer being produced, for a child, grandchild, niece or nephew, or younger sibling; or wants to purchase, out of a sense of nostalgia, a set he or she desired as a child and never received as a present; or wants to purchase a particular Minifigure™, other element, or whole set to complete a custom creation of his or her own design, the customer can often find multiple sellers through the BrickLink Global Marketplace.  As of this writing, there are 10,825 stores around the world selling new and used LEGO® Minifigures, bricks, other elements, and whole sets on the BrickLink Global Marketplace and 1,217,922 BrickLink Members in the Active Community.

Figure 1 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: This infographic gives insight into vital statistic of BrickLink.

Born in Czechoslovakia (then  part of the Soviet Union’s Warsaw Pact) on June 25, 1977 Dan Jezek was the only child of Professor Jaroslav Jezek, a famous mathematician who taught at Charles University (also known as the University of Prague), and his wife, Eliska.  Dan was a sickly child who had several hospital visits.  Eliska later came to the realization that Dan’s poor health was due to toxins in the environment.  The Jezeks were not rich by any means, but they did lead lives of privilege.  They were able to travel abroad, to Germany, Canada, and the U.S.A. during summer vacations at Charles University.  Dan received his first LEGO® set, a fire station, at the age of three upon his father’s return from a foreign excursion.  At the age of nine, he began to play with his father’s personal computer.  They had to build it slowly, but they had a vacation home.  In 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell and the oppressive Communist regimes of Eastern Europe collapsed, Professor Jezek received an offer to teach at the University of Hawaii.  Subsequently, Dan Jezek emigrated with his parents to the U.S.A., and arrived on Oahu on Christmas Eve in 1990.  Professor Jezek would later return to Prague in what had become the Czech Republic (after Czechoslovakia broke up into the Czech Republic and Slovakia), but Eliska and Dan stayed in Hawaii, which Eliska found to be a better climate for Dan’s health.  They eked out a living for years in Kailua.  [Although Eliska had a law degree from the University of Prague, she was unable to practice law in the U.S.A.]  Dan became a competitive power-lifter who won several trophies.  He studied computer science at a community college and the University of Hawaii.  In 2002, he became a naturalized citizen.  In 2000, he had founded BrickLink as a means to connect with fellow A.F.O.L.s around the world.  Initially, it was just a hobby, but he was the sole owner, developer, and administrator of BrickLink and it became a full-time job.  According to a eulogy delivered by his friend, Larry Hawthorne at a service held on October 22, 2010, for the first two years of the Website’s existence, Dan called it BrickBay, but eBay pressured him to change the name.  By the time of his sudden death at the age of thirty-three, BrickLink was one of the 50,000 most-visited Websites on the planet, which may not sound very impressive but that was out of the almost 200,000,000 Websites that already existed on the Internet.  Unfortunately, he died on September 24, 2010 with unrealized plans to wed, purchase a home, and start a family. His father, Professor Jezek died just three months later, in February of 2011.  Eliska carried on her son’s legacy under the “Jezek Family” banner until June of 2013. 

In 2013, NXMH acquired BrickLink.  NXMH is owned by Korean multi-billionaire Jung-Ju (“Jay”) Kim, one of the richest men in South Korea.

Niels B. Christiansen, C.E.O. of The LEGO® Group, stated, “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.  We plan to continue to support BrickLink’s active marketplace and evolve BrickLink’s digital studio which allows our talented fans to take their creativity to the next level.”

Figure 2 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: Niels B. Christiansen, C.E.O. of The LEGO® Group, as seen on April 18, 2018.

The aforementioned Jung-Ju (“Jay”) Kim, owner of NXMH, stated, “It has been a privilege to lead the transformation of BirckLink 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.” 

Julia Goldin, Chief Marketing Officer of The LEGO® Group, stated, “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 [LEGO®] 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.”

Figure 3 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: Julia Goldin, Chief Marketing Officer of The LEGO® Group, as seen on April 24, 2018.

The acquisition also includes Sohobricks, which makes small batches of building elements.  The LEGO® Group did not disclose financial terms of the acquisition.  In a press release, The LEGO® Group stated, “Closing is expected to occur before the end of 2019.”

Figure 4 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: This is an A.F.O.L. (Adult Fan of LEGO®) event at LEGO® House, a 12,000-square-meter attraction filled with 25,000,000 LEGO® bricks in Billund, Denmark.

Figure 5 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: This is an A.F.O.L. (Adult Fan of LEGO®) event at LEGO® House.

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