Creativity, Inc

I loved Creativity, Inc

. It’s the story of the founding, trials, tribulations, growth and eventual acquisition of Pixar as told by co-founder and company President Ed Catmull and journalist Amy Wallace. The best bits for me were the early chapters — the personal history and the early days of the company especially as Ed found himself in the right place at the right time though a bit of luck and judgement. His interest in computer animation co-incided with a wider growth in the coming together of computer science and art, partly driven by Cold War worries about what the Russians were up to after Sputnik.

The company grew out of Lucasfilm where they were essentially the IT department, making the hardware and software for the special effects and animations on Star Wars. During the 80s as Lucasfilm struggled, management consultants came in and suggested spinning them off and after a few aborted deals, they ended up with a slightly unusual majority shareholder — Steve Jobs.

Jobs supported them to do what they always wanted to do — to make the first computer animated feature film which of course they did as they created Toy Story. The rest as they say is history and Pixar has gone on to be synoymous with computer animation and brilliant storytelling. Now Ed Catmull and his co-founder John Lasseter run both Pixar and Disney Animation.

The stuff about preserving the creative culture in an organisation of thousands of employees was less interesting to me although I think that’s what sells books like this — all middle managers want to be creative. I also found the last section where they try to reboot Pixar following the resurgence of Disney Animation a bit flat.

Anyway, other than that, it’s a great book — well worth a read.