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GoldieBlox is an interactive toy company for girls. GoldieBlox launched in 2012 and went from a prototype on Kickstarter to more than $1m of pre-orders placed in under a month. In just under two years, GoldieBlox has made its way to Toys "R" Us, Amazon, and more than 6,000 retailers worldwide, including Canada, Australia, and the UK. The company was founded by Debbie Sterling, a Stanford engineering graduate and entrepreneur, and is based in Oakland, CA. GoldieBlox pairs a construction kit with a storybook.
While Sterling was a student at Stanford, she noticed her classes were predominantly male. This ratio was indicative of a larger gender gap; while she was at Stanford, the percentage of women in engineering in the United States was only 11% After research, Sterling found that girls begin to lose interest in math and science as young as age 8. She set out to create a solution, but knew that creating a pink construction toy wasn’t enough. She spent two years studying early child development, specifically in girls and the gender marketing of toys, and learned that girls excel in verbal skills, reading and writing. The breakthrough of GoldieBlox marries the story of Goldie, a girl inventor who loves to build, with a construction kit.
To fund her first round of production, Sterling created a Kickstarter campaign in 2012. The project reached its funding goal of $150,000 in 4 days, and went on to raise a total of $285,881 with 5,519 backers by the end of the campaign. In just under two years, GoldieBlox has made its way to Toys “R” Us, Amazon, and more than 1,000 retailers nationwide and in Canada, the U.K. and Australia.
Geared toward ages (4-12), toys in the GoldieBlox series introduce engineering concepts to girls through storytelling and building. Each toy introduces new characters and concepts, and there are currently six sets in the series.
In 2014, GoldieBlox also began introducing digital content. The company’s first mobile app, GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine, was introduced in October 2014. The app features the company’s first-ever animated cartoon, and was named by Apple as one of the Best Apps of 2014. Bloxtown.com, GoldieBlox’s digital playground, houses original content and videos of new design ideas for kids to watch and build at home.
GoldieBlox’s “Princess Machine” video launched on YouTube in November 2013, garnering over 8 million views in 4 days. The video features three young girls building a Rube Goldberg machine built by Brett Doar, and was set to a parody tune of the Beastie Boys song "Girls". Shortly after the release, the Beastie Boys reached out to GoldieBlox, inquiring about the use of their song without their permission. Goldieblox responded by suing for declaratory judgment in U.S. District Court of San Francisco seeking declaration of fair use due to parody. GoldieBlox claimed fair use on the grounds that they had "created its parody video specifically to comment on the Beastie Boys song, and to further the company's goal to break down gender stereotypes and to encourage young girls to engage in their intellect." The Beastie Boys responded with an open letter, in which they lauded "the creativity and message behind the ad," voiced their support for GoldieBlox's mission, but ultimately declared that the band did not permit their "music and/or name to be used in product ads," a claim which was further bolstered by a stipulation in deceased band member Adam Yauch's will. The Beastie Boys concluded their letter by stating, "when we tried to simply ask how and why our song 'Girls' had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US." GoldieBlox responded positively by taking down the video and writing their own open letter (which has since been taken down) stating that, "although we believe our parody video falls under fair use, we would like to respect [Yauch's] wishes and yours." Regardless, the Beastie Boys went ahead with the counter lawsuit and a settlement was ultimately reached. The settlement granted GoldieBlox a retroactive license for the song, in exchange GoldieBlox "agreed to make annual payments of 1% of its gross revenue, until the total payments reached $1 million, to a charitable organization chosen by the Beastie Boys and approved by GoldieBlox which supports ‘science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics education for "girls’."
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