The Power of Pixar

Quite a Buzz…
Infinity and beyond: Buzz Lightyear sketch from Toy Story (1995)

Pixar, the computer animation powerhouse behind such works as Toy Story, above, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, and, currently, the number one movie in the country, Wall•E, has created one of the strongest, most dominant brands in entertainment. But, in its early days, the company stumbled and faltered repeatedly, staying in business by the sheer dint of its tenacious founders.

So says David A. Price in his new book, The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company. David Price is today’s guest on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, July 4th, 2 pm ET.

So, why did Pixar succeed? In a Q&A on his publisher’s web site, Price says it amounts to two words:

The first one is faith. There was a belief during the early wilderness years that the group would amount to something important. That’s what kept George Lucas, and later Steve Jobs, writing the checks to keep it going. That’s what kept Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith, the founders and technical geniuses, on board at a time when they could have moved into academic jobs. That’s what kept John Lasseter at Pixar after he won his Oscar for Tin Toy and Disney was dangling offers to bring him back.

The second word is status. Within the community of people working on computer graphics, Pixar became recognized very early as the coolest place to work. It was perceived as having the best people and the best projects, and therefore the most prestige. For a lot of strong people who are deciding where to work, this is as important as money, if not more so. So the organization had its pick of the top recruits, as it still does today and for the same reasons.

David A. Price has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Forbes, and Inc. He’s the author the 2005 book, Love and Hate in Jamestown.

You can hear us discuss his ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, you can check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, check out our archive for up to two weeks after broadcast.



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