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To Pixar and Beyond summary

Lawrence Levy

My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History

4.6 (53 ratings)
24 mins

Brief summary

"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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    To Pixar and Beyond
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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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    What is To Pixar and Beyond about?

    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.

    To Pixar and Beyond Review

    To Pixar and Beyond (2016) gives readers an inside look at the rise of one of the most successful animation studios in history. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With behind-the-scenes stories and insights from Lawrence Levy, the former CFO of Pixar, readers gain a unique perspective on the business side of the creative world.
    • It explores the challenges and triumphs faced by Pixar, making the book fascinating for both animation enthusiasts and business-minded individuals.
    • By shedding light on the leadership and financial strategies behind the success of Pixar, the book provides valuable lessons applicable to various industries.

    Best quote from To Pixar and Beyond

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

    —Lawrence Levy
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    Who should read To Pixar and Beyond?

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

    About the Author

    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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    To Pixar and Beyond FAQs 

    What is the main message of To Pixar and Beyond?

    The main message of To Pixar and Beyond is about the journey of taking Pixar from a struggling startup to a successful animation studio.

    How long does it take to read To Pixar and Beyond?

    The reading time for To Pixar and Beyond varies from reader to reader. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is To Pixar and Beyond a good book? Is it worth reading?

    To Pixar and Beyond is a captivating book that provides insights into the behind-the-scenes story of Pixar. It's definitely worth a read.

    Who is the author of To Pixar and Beyond?

    The author of To Pixar and Beyond is Lawrence Levy.

    What to read after To Pixar and Beyond?

    If you're wondering what to read next after To Pixar and Beyond, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Radical Candor by Kim Scott
    • Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs
    • Becoming Steve Jobs by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli
    • Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
    • The Conscious Mind by David J. Chalmers
    • AI for Business Leaders by Michael Ramsay
    • Good Leaders Ask Great Questions by John C. Maxwell