Hollywood's 'Devilish Angel'

By Summers, Nick | Newsweek, October 10, 2011 | Go to article overview

Hollywood's 'Devilish Angel'


Summers, Nick, Newsweek


Byline: Nick Summers; Nick Summers is a senior writer for Newsweek covering media.

Ousted from Apple, Jobs looked to moviemaking for salvation--and nearly bankrupted himself in the process.

Computers didn't make Steve Jobs a billionaire--toys did.

On Nov. 22, 1995, Toy Story--the world's first fully computer-animated film--opened to critical acclaim and $29 million in box-office receipts. One week later, Pixar, the studio that created the movie and that many had written off just months before, went public. It was the biggest IPO of the year and meant a billion-dollar windfall for Jobs.

More than that, it gave Jobs back his mojo.

A decade earlier, he had been ousted from Apple. Wounded and restless, he paid $5 million to filmmaker George Lucas for the rights to his small but intriguing animation division and put up another $5 million for capital. Jobs took a 70 percent stake. The new company was called Pixar--and it would take another nine years before it came into its own, in the process reconfirming Jobs's genius and turning the prince of Silicon Valley into a Hollywood hero.

While most of Jobs's products and businesses--Apple and the Macintosh; NeXT Inc.; the iPod, iPhone, and iPad--bore their father's DNA, Pixar was always different. Like Jobs himself, Pixar was adopted; he bought the company when it was seven years old, when its own culture had already begun to jell. Over the years, Jobs would infuse Pixar with many qualities, but the company was never quite his, culturally, making his influence there a sort of nature-vs.-nurture case study of what it means to be a Steve Jobs project.

Pixar was born in 1979 as Graphics Group, a division of Lucasfilm, after Lucas sensed the potential of 3-D computer animation and lured several of the new medium's visionaries from the New York Institute of Technology. In Lucas, the group found a colorful but patient sponsor, one who prepared them well for the arrival of Jobs in 1986.

But trouble began immediately. Because the computational horsepower necessary to create a feature-length animated movie was still years away, Pixar needed to find other reasons for existing. Jobs felt the answer lay in hardware manufacturing. That, too, was a fraught business, with high overhead and complex supply chains. And graphical supercomputers were not exactly a mass product. Pixar quickly bled through Jobs's initial financing.

"We started out as a hardware company and, frankly, should have failed!" says Alvy Ray Smith, who, with Edwin Catmull, cofounded Pixar. "But Steve, who'd been kicked out of Apple, could not sustain the embarrassment. Whenever we got into trouble, Steve would write another check and get more equity. Over the next few years he bought the entire company."

Jobs would eventually sink $50 million into Pixar, as his attention was monopolized by his other startup, the foundering NeXT Inc. computer company. It was hard to tell which was the larger boondoggle. Pixar's finances, says Pamela Kerwin, an early employee, began to resemble "an extremely overdrawn checking account."

"At that point, [Jobs] didn't have any support from his Valley peers; they all thought he was crazy," says Kerwin. December, the fiscal year-end for Pixar, was often a bleak month. "He would get emotional. Frankly, anybody would. This word is never used about Steve, but I'm sure he was frightened, like anyone would be."

Too far ahead of its time, the Pixar Image Computer had few customers. To attract more of them, a Pixar employee named John Lasseter created a short film, Luxo Jr., to show off the technology. Astonishingly, it was nominated for a 1987 Academy Award as best animated short film. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Hollywood's 'Devilish Angel'
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.