Pixar's 'Incredible' Culture

            
 
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Case Details:

Case Code : HROB082
Case Length : 20 Pages
Period : 2004-2006
Pub. Date : 2006
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Pixar Animation Studios
Industry : Media and Entertainment
Countries : USA

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"There's a wonderful yin-yang at the foundation of Pixar. The art challenges the technology, and the technology inspires the art. It's a drug. I mean, it just powers you on." 1

- John A. Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer, Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, in 2004.

"We've made the leap from an idea-centered business to a people-centered business. Instead of developing ideas, we develop people. Instead of investing in ideas, we invest in people. We're trying to create a culture of learning, filled with lifelong learners. It's no trick for talented people to be interesting, but it's a gift to be interested. We want an organization filled with interested people." 2

- Randy Nelson, Dean, Pixar University, in 2006.

Can Pixar's Culture Prevail?

On May 5, 2006, The Walt Disney Company3 (Disney) completed the acquisition of Pixar Animation Studios (Pixar) for US$7.4 billion. The Emeryville, California-based Pixar is an award winning computer generated imagery (CGI) animation firm.

Among its best known computer animated movie productions are Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo, Monster, Inc., and The Incredibles. In addition to this, Pixar also develops and markets high-end 3-D computer graphics technology such as RenderMan, an industry-standard rendering4 software used to generate high-quality, photorealistic images.

With this deal Disney hoped that Pixar would bring some creative magic to Disney once again, as Disney had, after 1994, produced a string of lackluster and forgettable animated films. The deal made Pixar's chairman and CEO, Steve Jobs (Jobs), the largest individual shareholder and a member of the board of directors at Disney.

Human Resource and Organization Behavior | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Human Resource and Organization Behavior, Case Studies

Pixar's Executive Vice President, John Lasseter (Lasseter), a two-time Academy Award5-winning director and animator, became the chief creative officer of Disney and Pixar animation studios.

He also had the authority to approve films for both Disney and Pixar, while Disney CEO Robert Iger (Iger) would have the final approving authority. Lasseter would also serve as the principal creative adviser at Walt Disney Imagineering, which designs and builds the company's theme parks. Pixar's president Edwin E. Catmull (Catmull) became the president of Disney and Pixar animation studios. He would report to Iger and Dick Cook (Cook), chairman of Walt Disney Studio Entertainment. Even so, Pixar would remain a separate entity and operate from its headquarters in Emeryville with its name intact. Branding of films made post-merger would be under the "Disney Pixar" banner. "With this transaction, we welcome and embrace Pixar's unique culture, which for two decades, has fostered some of the most innovative and successful films in history.

Pixar's 'Incredible' Culture - Next Page>>


1] Brent Schlender, "Incredible: The Man Who Built Pixar's Innovation Machine," http://money.cnn.com, November 15, 2004.

2] William C. Taylor and Polly Labarre, "How Pixar Adds a New School of Thought to Disney," www.nytimes.com, January 29, 2006.

3] The Walt Disney Company headquartered in Burbank, California, USA, is one of the largest media and entertainment corporations in the world. It was founded on October 16, 1923 by brothers Walt Disney and Roy O. Disney as a small animation studio. The Walt Disney Company operates in business segments like animation / motion picture production and distribution, theme parks and resorts, television broadcasting networks, and consumer products. It reported revenues of US$ 31.9 billion in 2005 and had around 133,000 employees worldwide.

4] In computer graphics, Rendering is referred to as the process of producing the pixels of an image from a higher level description of its components. A pixel is one of the many tiny dots that make up the representation of a picture in a computer's memory. 3-D Rendering is termed as the process of producing an image based on three-dimensional data.

5] The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are the most prominent film awards in the US and most watched awards ceremony in the world. The Awards are granted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a professional honorary organization dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org)

 

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