Harold Ty Warner (born September 3, 1944) is a wealthy American toy manufacturer and businessman. He is Chairman, CEO, sole owner and founder of Ty Inc., which manufactures and distributes Beanie Babies.
He attended Kalamazoo College in Michigan but dropped out after a year and moved to Hollywood to commence a career in acting. He enjoyed little success as an actor and returned to Chicago.
How Ty Warner got rich
In Chicago, he started working for a plush toy maker Daikin where he became an accomplished salesman, employing clever tactics to influence the decisions of "buyers" in large stores. After nearly two decades at Daikin and a long sabbatical in Italy, Warner returned again to Chicago. He mortgaged his home and invested his life savings into founding Ty Inc. in 1986.
Using his extensive contacts in toy retail, Warner was quickly able to realize what would sell and how to sell it. At one Atlanta Toy Fair, he obtained orders for 30,000 toys in one hour. In 1993, Ty Inc. launched Beanie Babies. By 1996, they had become a cult phenomenon delivering Warner tremendous wealth. Beanie sales reputedly eased after 2000, although the company is believed to continue to be strongly profitable. At the peak of the Beanie craze, the privately owned Ty Inc. is believed to have earned over $700 million in profits in a year.
Warner's business strategy was novel. He did not spend money on advertising. He selectively limited production of certain Beanie Babies to encourage collectors. He did not distribute Beanies at large department stores to encourage the perception that Beanies were an elite offering. As a result of these strategies, collectors would enthusiatically await and buy up new products with a secondary market emerging where some Beanies sell for $1000 or more. At their peak of popularity, some Beanies reached a price of $5000, despite selling for as little as $5 in stores. There have been books published on collecting Beanies and hundreds of websites about Beanies were formed on the internet.
$5.0 billion as of 2005.
$6.0 billion as of 2004.