Pixar cofounder Ed Catmull reveals in a new book that the now-legendary animation company was almost sold to General Motors and Philips for its technology but the deal fell through just before it could be signed. The details come in an excerpt from Catmull’s new book, “Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration.”
Lucasfilm was looking to spin off the Pixar team and shopped it to 20 prospective buyers without a deal, before an agreement was eventually reached with GM and Philips. Catmull explained that Phillips wanted the Pixar Image wanted the Pixar Image Computer’s ability to render data from CT scans of MRIs, while GM wanted to use its modeling technology for car design.
The parties were within one week of making the sale final but it fell apart at the last minute according to Catmull. He characterized his feeling at the time as “a mixture of despair and relief.” He continued by writing the following:
We'd known from the outset that entering into a relationship with GM and Philips would likely put an end to our dream of making the first animated feature film, but that was a risk no matter who we joined up with. To this day, I am thankful that the deal went south. Because it paved the way for Steve Jobs.
In another excerpt from the book, Catmull also explained how the experience of running Pixar helped changed Jobs for the better. Catmull worked with Jobs for more than 25 years and believes Pixar made him “more sensitive not only to other people’s feeling but also their value as contributors to the create process.”
He also revealed that Jobs gave advice at Pixar in a humble fashion noting that he wasn’t really a filmmaker and that people could choose to ignore everything he said if they wanted to. When Job’s take was south out for, he would focus on the problems rather than the filmmakers.
Those of you interested in reading more about the topic can do so by picking up “Creativity, Inc.”