Former Chief Financial Officer for Pixar Animation Studios, Lawrence Levy, has a new book on the way entitled To Pixar and Beyond, and in it he details quite a long and engaging history, including the impact made by the late co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs.
For those not aware, Steve Jobs began his connection to the entity that would become Pixar back in 1986, when he purchased The Graphics Group. That happened to be one-third of the total division of Lucasfilm’s Computer group, and it was eventually renamed Pixar Animation Studios. Jobs and Pixar’s team at the time weren’t always on the same page, but eventually it turned into something historic.
As Levy puts it, the former CFO worked with Jobs to make history in the entertainment industry. That started with Jobs mowing through the $50 investment he made in Pixar to begin with. Jobs actually called Levy, who was working as a technology executive in 1994 in Silicon Valley, and in the same year he became CFO of Pixar. Levy saw an early cut of a film that would eventually become Toy Story, and he remembers how, even after the success that film saw once it was released to the public, Pixar basically had to make a case to Disney for its worth in creating animated movies throughout the years.
That eventually led Disney to buy Pixar for $7.4 billion back in 2006, which at the time made Steve Jobs the largest shareholder in the Walt Disney Company.
“So Jobs and Levy hatched a two-part plan. The first part involved an initial public stock offering. Pixar raised about $150 million in November 1995, shortly after the first Toy Story enjoyed its then-stellar $29 million opening weekend. The success of that first film and the cash in the bank allowed Pixar to take its next step, going to Disney Chief Executive Officer Michael Eisner and asking for a renegotiation of the contract.
Eisner didn’t have to budge, but Pixar’s offer to finance half of the future cost of the films was likely a big incentive in the boom-or-bust business. After months of haggling, Eisner cut a deal, giving Disney the right to additional films and Pixar a 50 percent share of the profits. By the time of the Disney purchase, Pixar had won nine Academy Awards, and its first six feature films had grossed more than $3.2 billion at the box office, thanks to such hits as The Incredibles and Monsters, Inc. Jobs, who had pancreatic cancer, died five years later at 56.”
To Pixar and Beyond is available right now from major distributors. including in iBooks, for $14.99.