Pixar: Where Steve Jobs’ Greatest Gifts Live On
I admire Apple. But I love Pixar. As the world mourns Steve Jobs’ death, I recall the first time I took my sons to an Apple Store. I told them it was Steve Jobs’ home. My six-year-old son replied: “Do Woody and Buzz live here, too?” Indeed, my kids knew Steve Jobs was the man behind both Apple and Pixar. But few people realize just how much time, money and patience Jobs invested to transform Pixar from a money-losing R&D house into the world’s most successful digital movie studio.
You can trace Pixar’s history back to NYIT — the New York Institute of Technology — and the college’s Computer Graphics Lab. Many of Pixar’s early employees worked at NYIT in the 1970s before moving onto a company owned by Star Wars creator George Lucas. The team focused on a range of ground-breaking graphics hardware and software in the 1980s. But none of it really generated big profits. Until Steve Jobs came along.
According to Wikipedia:
Pixar began in 1979 as the Graphics Group, part of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm before it was acquired by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in 1986. The Walt Disney Company bought Pixar in 2006 at a valuation of $7.4 billion; the transaction made Jobs the largest shareholder in Disney.
Those two sentences don’t capture the decade-long drama that Jobs and Pixar faced together. I seem to recall Jobs pouring $10 million (or more) into Pixar to keep the company afloat. By 1995, the original Toy Story arrived. Pixar finally had its focus — developing feature length computer animated movies.
The Magic Lives On
Sometime this weekend, I will turn off my iPhone and my iPad. I’ll grab my wife and kids, and return to the land of Buzz, Woody and the rest of the Toy Story crew. Somewhere between the opening and closing credits, I’ll remind my kids to:
“Do what you love — and love what you do.”
Some of us are lucky to find our passion once in a lifetime. In Apple and Pixar, Jobs found it twice. We were all in the right place and the right time to witness that passion. Thank you, Steve.