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A Look at the History, Success and Net Worth of Mattel; The Firm That Created Barbie

While the company was founded by Ruth and Elliot Handler, and Harold 'Matt' Matson, it is currently owned by institutional investors.
UPDATED MAR 18, 2024
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by David McNew
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by David McNew

What is Mattel's net worth?

Mattel has a current market cap or net worth of $6.73 billion as of December 2023. Mattel’s brands and products are grouped into six brand categories, Dolls, Infant, Toddler & Preschool, Vehicles, Action Figures, Building Sets, and Games. The company’s offerings also include film and television content, music and live events, and gaming. The revenue of Mattel was reported to be $5.059 billion for the twelve months ending on June 30. While the company’s Net Sales were $815 million, in the first quarter of 2023, as per the official quarterly report.

Mattel, the owner and creator of the Barbie doll brand has brought the legend back with Greta Gerwig’s film Barbie which was released recently against Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. The movie Barbie has been accepted wholeheartedly by the audience and now Mattel is looking to make more movies of its iconic toy collections.

From starting out in a garage to becoming a multibillion-dollar toy empire, the story of Mattel has been nothing short of inspiring. At the present stage, the company is diverse and owns several leading brands in the toy world.


Cover Image: Getty Images | Photo by David McNew
Image: Getty Images | Photo by David McNew

While the company was founded by Ruth and Elliot Handler, and Harold 'Matt' Matson, the company is currently owned by institutional investors who hold majority ownership of MAT. Some of the major shareholders of the company are PRIMECAP Management Co.,  Edgepoint Investment Group, Inc., The Vanguard Group, Inc., and BlackRock Fund Advisors.

Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by David McNew
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by David McNew

In its portfolio of owned and licensed brands, the company owns Barbie, Monster High, American Girl, Fisher-Price, Thomas & Friends, Power Wheels, Fireman Sam, Hot Wheels, Masters of the Universe, MEGA, UNO, and many more.

Mattel Creations was founded in 1945 in a garage by husband-wife duo Elliot and Ruth Handler along with Harold ‘Matt’ Matson. The name Mattel, was a combination of the names Elliot and Matt. Prior to creating Mattel, Ruth Handler worked as a secretary at Paramount Studios, while her husband and high school sweetheart, Elliot Handler made plastic giftware like clocks, bowls, mirrors, etc. 

At the beginning, Mattel sold picture frames, and it soon transitioned to making dollhouse furniture with leftover wood out of the picture frames. Eventually, Matt sold his shares and stake to Ruth owing to poor health.

The company’s first hit came in 1947 with the Uke-A-Doodle, a child-sized instrument designed to make music accessible and more interactive for kids. After the toy’s success and some popularity under its belt, the company was incorporated in 1948 with headquarters in Los Angeles.

Two years later, in 1950, Mattel introduced the iconic Magic 8 Ball which was inspired by the inventor’s mother who was reportedly a clairvoyant. The toy gathered immense popularity and even today, about 1 million units of it are sold annually. In 1955, Mattel revolutionized the way toys were marketed as it began television advertising through the Mickey Mouse Club, of Walt Disney. In 1968, the company introduced Hot Wheels which was invented by a team of creators comprising of a rocket scientist and a car designer.

Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by David McNew
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by David McNew

In 1960, Mattel became a publicly traded company and it went on to acquire several other toy and entertainment companies to create a multibillion-dollar empire.

Mattel launched the iconic Barbie Doll in 1959, created by Ruth Handler who was inspired by her daughter, Barbara who played with paper dolls for hours which made Ruth realize an opportunity to inspire girls. She created a three-dimensional doll that shows them that they can be anything. Barbie represented women in new and modern ways and established itself as a symbol of independence and empowerment.

Image Source: Getty Images | Photo By Michael Williams
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo By Michael Williams

In 1961 Mattel introduced Ken as a boyfriend for Barbie and in the following year, it launched the first Barbie Dreamhouse.

Image Source: Getty Images | Photo courtesy of Mattel
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo courtesy of Mattel

In 1985, Barbie launched the campaign  'We Girls Can Do Anything', and a year later Barbie became one of the American icons to be painted by renowned artist Andy Warhol.  Barbie was officially inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1998.

Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Ian Waldie
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Ian Waldie

Fast forward to 2016, Barbie took further progressive steps by introducing New Body Types to better reflect the girls. The three new body types were curvy, petite, and tall and this introduction landed Barbie on the cover of Time magazine.


In 2019 Barbie celebrated her 60th anniversary by honoring global role models and major landmarks around the world were lit up in pink. Fast forward to 2023, the Barbie movie was released starring Margot Robbie as Barbie, and presented a take on patriarchy and women empowerment.

Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Hector Vivas
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Hector Vivas

Mattel's legacy 

Mattel's enduring legacy is owed to innovative marketing strategies that have kept the brand's toys and iconic lineups such as Barbie relevant and sought throughout the decades. From strategic collaborations to digital campaigns, Mattel has led advertising innovation in the toy industry.

Over the years Mattel has introduced several iconic line of toys such as the The Safety School Bus which evolved over decades to become the modern-day Little People version, the  Chatter Telephone, the Rock-A-Stack, which continues to be one of the bestsellers, and the popular card game, Uno.

Further, strategic acquisitions such as that of Fisher-Price added to the brand’s catalog of pre-school toys and expanded its portfolio.

Market valuation and global presence

According to Zacjhonson, Mattel's market current market cap is valued at $6.73 billion as of December 2023.  The company operates in over  35 locations and its iconic toys and products are sold in over 150 countries through some of the world's leading retail and e-commerce companies.

Ruth Handler's personal life

A portrait of Ruth and Elliott Handler | Getty Images
A portrait of Ruth and Elliott Handler | Getty Images

Handler was born in Denver, Colorado as one of the ten children of her Jewish parents. According to the Los Angeles Times, she married her high school boyfriend Elliot Handler in 1938.  While Elliot and Handler enjoyed massive success with Mattel, her later life was troubled with personal and health struggles.

As per PEOPLE, in the early 1970s, Handler was diagnosed with breast cancer and she had to undergo a mastectomy. Eventually, she resigned from the position of the president of Mattel in 1973 but continued to pursue her personal interests. She later started working on a new product, which was a comfortable breast prosthesis which she later named Nearly Me prosthetic. She also founded the Ruthton Corporation, which works to help women who need mastectomies. 

Later in 1978, Handler was indicted on the charges of fraud and false reporting to the SEC. Handler pleaded no contest and was subsequently fined $57,000 and sentenced to 2,500 hours of community service.


How Did Ruth Handler’s Breast Cancer Diagnosis Impact Her Career?

After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1970s, Handler underwent a mastectomy and resigned as the president of Mattel in 1973. However, this didn't stop her from innovating as she started working on a new product, a comfortable breast prosthesis.

Was Ruth Handler Accused Of Tax Fraud?

Yes, in 1978, Ruth Handler was indicted on charges of false reporting to the SEC, and she pleaded no contest. She was fined $57,000 and ordered to  2,500 hours of community service.

What Is Mattel’s Annual Revenue?

The legendary toymaker Mattel had revenue of $5.44 billion in 2023, according to Stock Analysis.  

What Is Mattel’s Market Capitalization?

As of December 2023, Mattel had a market cap of $6.73 billion. 

What Is Mattel’s Stock Price?

As of February 20, Mattel's stock price is $19.25. 

How Are Mattel’s Earnings Determined?

According to the official website, in its earnings Mattel uses "Adjusted Gross Profit, Adjusted Gross Margin, Adjusted Other Selling and Administrative Expenses, Adjusted Operating Income, Adjusted Operating Income Margin, Adjusted Earnings Per Share, earnings before interest expense, " and other such factors to determine its earnings.

What Are Some Of Mattel’s Iconic Brands?

Some of Mattel's iconic brands, include Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price, Thomas & Friends, American Girl, UNO, and MEGA. 

Where Are Mattel’s Products Sold?

Mattel merchandises products through free-standing toy stores, chain stores, department stores, retail outlets, wholesalers,  and directly to consumers.