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Lawrence Levy

My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History

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"To Pixar and Beyond" by Lawrence Levy is a memoir about how he played a central role in the success of Pixar, helping it become one of the most celebrated film studios in the world.


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    The prospect of working in an inspirational environment lured Lawrence Levy to Pixar.

    In November 1994, Lawrence Levy received a life-changing phone call. At the time, Levy was CFO at a desktop publishing start-up called Electronics for Imaging. One day, he was told that none other than Steve Jobs, the cofounder of Apple, was on the line. Although Jobs had left Apple ten years prior, he was still a notable figure in Silicon Valley – a call from him was a big deal.

    Jobs wanted to talk about Pixar, a small imaging computer and software company he owned. He wanted Levy to help run it, develop its strategy, and eventually take it to the stock market. After all, Levy had done the same for other Silicon Valley start-ups.

    The catch? Pixar wasn’t doing well. But despite that, it still looked like an incredible opportunity to Levy.

    The key message here is: The prospect of working in an inspirational environment lured Lawrence Levy to Pixar.

    To get a better sense of what lay ahead of him, Levy did some research on Pixar. No one he asked knew how the company was staying afloat. As it turned out, Jobs was writing monthly checks to keep it running. At that point, he’d already poured $50 million into the company. 

    Pixar’s future definitely looked bleak, and Levy worried he’d be risking his career by jumping on board. But a tour of the company’s facilities made him reconsider.

    Levy met Pixar’s cofounder, Ed Catmull, who showed him a scene from a new film project: Toy Story. Levy was blown away. Toy Story would go on to become the world’s first feature-length computer-animated film, but it wasn’t just technically impressive. The storytelling transported Levy, to the point where he found himself empathizing with the toys on the screen!

    Afterward, Levy got a glimpse into how the film was created. He met John Lasseter, Pixar’s creative lead, and saw some of the company’s tools. There was a hand-built machine that transferred computer images onto film, thousands of highly detailed storyboards, and computers that produced each frame of the movie. Everything Levy saw convinced him that Catmull and Lasseter were destined to succeed and that it would be an honor to work with them.

    Nonetheless, he still had doubts about joining Pixar. He wasn’t sure how the company could become viable. And while he’d easily connected with Jobs, Levy was wary of the man’s reputation for being difficult. Ultimately, the opportunity was simply too intriguing to pass up. Levy accepted the role of executive vice president and chief financial officer at Pixar.

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    Worum geht es in To Pixar and Beyond?

    To Pixar and Beyond (2016) tells the story of how Lawrence Levy and Steve Jobs turned an unknown and struggling computer imaging company – Pixar – into an animation studio worth billions of dollars. Along the way, the company faced numerous internal and external challenges, tackling each with creative and strategic decisions that ultimately led to its success.

    Bestes Zitat aus To Pixar and Beyond

    This was our mountain to climb, no matter how steep or far away the summit.

    —Lawrence Levy
    example alt text

    Wer To Pixar and Beyond lesen sollte

    • Leaders of organizations or start-ups
    • Animation fans inspired by Pixar’s work
    • Entertainment buffs interested in the business side of things

    Über den Autor

    Lawrence Levy is a Harvard Law School graduate who started his career at Silicon Valley’s largest law firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. He later became an executive at Electronics for Imaging, a color desktop publishing start-up, and in 1994, he joined Pixar as its executive vice president and chief financial officer. In 2003, Levy cofounded Juniper Foundation, an organization that promotes traditional meditation practices for the modern world.

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