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Current Logo as of 2006-present The old logo had a bouncing frog on the logo's top
|Type||Public (NYSE: LF)|
|Founder(s)||Michael Wood, Robert Lally|
|Headquarters||Emeryville, California, US|
|Key people||John Barbour (CEO); Michael J. Dodd (President and Chief Operating Officer); William (Bill) B. Chiasson (Chairman); Raymond Arthur (CFO)|
LeapFrog Enterprises Inc NYSE: LF is an educational entertainment company based in Emeryville, California. LeapFrog designs, develops, and markets technology-based learning products and related content for the education of infant through grade school children.
The company was founded in 1995 by Michael Wood and Robert Lally. LeapFrog has developed a number of learning platforms with a library of software titles, covering subjects including phonics, reading, writing, and math for grade school children.
Wood was working as an attorney for a law firm. Wood looked around for an educational toy to help his son. As there appeared to be nothing on the market at that time, Wood developed a prototype and performed cost analysis studies to ensure that the final product would not be sold at a prohibitive price.
In 1994, Wood took the prototype to Dr. Robert Calfee, a professor of education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Armed with Dr. Calfee's feedback, Wood refined his toy, and in 1995, developed the first toy that LeapFrog would market: the LeapFrog Phonics Desk.
After raising US$800,000 to launch the company. costs were prohibitive. Nevertheless, the company soon started to develop a second toy.
1997: Expansion and acquisition by Knowledge Universe
By early 1997, LeapFrog had distribution in over 10 countries overseas and a number of major clients within the US. The company hired Brad Crawford, who formerly worked for Little Tikes, to oversee engineering and manufacturing.
In late 1997, LeapFrog won the backing of Knowledge Universe, an educational and marketing conglomerate founded by brothers Michael and Lowell Milken, and Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corporation. It then operated as a division of Knowledge Universe's subsidiary, Knowledge Kids Enterprise, up until it went public in 2002. The Knowledge Kids subsidiary was headed by Tom Kalinske, a former president of toy conglomerate Mattel.
In 1998, LeapFrog acquired Explore Technologies Ltd, which developed the technology that would later be used in the LeapPad. The LeapPad was launched in 1999, and quickly became LeapFrog's flagship product.
In 1999, LeapFrog opened a new division, LeapFrog Schoolhouse, that markets their products to schools and educational institutions.
LeapFrog went public on the New York Stock Exchange on July 25, 2002. It currently trades under the symbol LF. In 2002, LeapFrog partnered with Sega Toys and Benesse Corporation to produce localized versions of their toys for the Japanese market. And by 2003, their products are sold in more than 25 countries worldwide.
In late 2007, LeapFrog officially discontinued the LeapPad and started offering the Tag as its successor. However, the LeapPad is still available through LeapFrog Schoolhouse to educational institutions and homeschoolers.
On June 7, 2010, LeapFrog unveiled the Leapster Explorer. The successor to Leapster 2, it supports online game play as well as learning apps, e-books, and videos.
Mr. John Barbour was named CEO of LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. on March 7, 2011.
On June 29, 2011, LeapFrog introduced the next generation of digital reading and personal creativity by announcing the pre-sale for LeapPad Explorer, a personalized learning tablet for children aged 4 to 9. The LeapPad Explorer pre-sale units sold out in the first two weeks. LeapPad hit shelves on August 15, 2011.
LeapFrog’s product portfolio focuses on three main families of products; reading solutions, educational gaming and grade school products and learning toys. Notable products include:
- LeapPad – A series of now-discontinued educational devices. The products in this family varied in design, but all accepted an insertion cartridge to be used with a book that. The LeapPad was LeapFrog's flagship product from 1999 up until it was discontinued in late 2007 (early-mid 2008 outside the US), and replaced by the Tag reading system.
- LeapPad Explorer/LeapPad2 - The second line of LeapPad products are personalized learning tablets designed for children ages 4 to 9. The existing library of Leapster Explorer™ game cartridges and apps is cross-compatible with LeapPad. LeapPad Explorer was released on August 15, 2011. The LeapPad2 was announced in June 2012.
- Leapster - A portable learning system for children ages 4 to 9 with a large library of cartridge games and downloadable learning apps, including e-books, videos, games and flashcards. There have been multiple incarnations of the Leapster including the initial release, Leapster2, Leapster Explorer and the upcoming LeapsterGS, which was announced in June 2012.
- Tag Reading System- The Tag Reader has a small, infrared camera at the tip that “reads” letters, words and symbols printed on the special dot-patterned pages of products in the Tag library. The system is designed to help children ages 4 to 8 learn to read. Tag Jr. is also available for ages 1 to 4.
- My Own Story Time Pad- A pretend e-reader designed for children with real stories and songs parents can personalize with a child’s name and more. It offers more than 10 stories and songs and holds up to five stories, ten songs, and three emails at a time.
- Peek-a-Shoe Talking Octopus - Designed to help young children build motor skills, this ocean friend combines standard ball-drop play with counting, color and sea animal responses.
- Leapfrog Didj - A handheld educational gaming device was phased out in LeapFrog’s pursuit to meet high-tech expectations and to support the launch of the mobile learning platform Leapster Explorer.
- ‘Scout’s ABC Garden’ App for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad was released on April 7, 2011. The app encourages children to explore letter names and sounds step-by-step, and each child's experience is customized based on his or her name, favorite food, favorite color and favorite animal.
- My Pal Scout - A customizable plush toy that can be programmed with various songs and the owner's name and preferences. Additionally, LeapFrog produced various other toys, including toy vehicles, interactive plushes and toys for the infant market.
Licensing and partnerships
In addition to producing their own toys, LeapFrog also licenses their characters (the Leapfrog Learning Friends) to third parties:
- Kiddieland Limited – ride-on toys, tricycles and scooters
- Masterpieces Puzzles – jigsaw puzzles
- Learning Horizons – books and various stationeries
LeapFrog also has partnerships with various companies:
- Sega Toys and Benesse Corp – localized version of the toys for the Japanese market.
- Macromedia – co-developed the Leapster handheld system.
- Lionsgate Home Entertainment – produced LeapFrog Learning DVDs series of educational DVDs from 2009 onwards, beginning with Let's Go To School.
- PorchLight Entertainment and Warner Home Video – Produced the LeapFrog Learning DVDs series of educational DVDs. Some of the DVD titles are also available in cartridge video format for the Leapster handheld system. Released DVDs up until 2007's A Tad of Christmas Cheer. Leapfrog has since chosen Lionsgate Entertainment as their new partner for releasing educational DVDs.
- Uniayu Solutions Malaysia – Wheee! center of learning franchise. Defunct due to poor enrollment.
Leapfrog Learning Friends
LeapFrog has developed various characters for use in house, and eventually licensed the characters for use in third party products. These characters are collectively known as the Leapfrog Learning Friends. LeapFrog continues to develop new characters and has expanded character placement across products and content.
LeapFrog was awarded the 2011 Toy of the Year Award, Instructor Magazine’s 2011 Teacher’s Pick Award 2010, Parent’s Best Toys, NAPPA Gold, 2010 Time to Play Award, Golden Apple Award and was placed on the The Toy Insider’s 2010 Hot 20 and FunFares’s 2010 Hot Dozen lists.
In 2003, LeapFrog marketed an animated DVD, Letter Factory & Talking Words Factory, whose purpose is to encourage young children to learn to read. More recently, they have expanded the series and there are now 15 different titles available.
The DVDs are...
- Letter Factory (2003)
- Talking Words Factory (2003)
- Math Circus (2004)
- Talking Words Factory II: Code Word Caper (2004)
- Learn to Read at the Storybook Factory (2005)
- A Tad of Christmas Cheer (2007)
In 2003, a complaint was filed charging LeapFrog with artificially inflating the stock price by issuing material misrepresentations with respect to the sales projections for fiscal year 2003. A settlement of $2300000 was reached in 2008.
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