To Pixar and Beyond. A Book Review and Comparison to Other Titles

Pixar and Beyond

A book review by Spike Radway

I recently enjoyed the newly released book, “To Pixar and Beyond. My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History” by Lawrence Levy. Enough to take the time to write a review and encourage Cleveland Digital Publishing User Group (CDPUG) members to read this recently released title.

I have read a few books about Steve Jobs and Pixar and this one is in the recommended reading for others list. This title kept me very engaged and eager to keep going. It has the unusual perspective being from point of view of the CFO of Pixar. It focuses on the business and financial issues of growing Pixar, and accomplishing the very difficult and successful IPO. The author is a former Silicon Valley attorney and business executive personally recruited by Steve Jobs for his position at Pixar.

What is very noticeable and unique in this book is that the subtitle referencing Steve Jobs is not just a marketing ploy to sell copies. Steve Jobs in mentioned constantly through out since the author’s position at Pixar required him to interact with Steve Jobs constantly. The descriptions of Steve Jobs show his keen intellect and judgement without the negativity of the authorized  Walter Isaacson biography. I would instead put it into the list with “Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader” by Brent Schlender, a journalist who knew Steve Jobs and describes his growth into the genius we all know and admire today. Also in this list of books is the title “Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration” by Ed Catmull, the CEO of Pixar. “Creativity, Inc.” focuses on the management issues involved with the special creative culture at Pixar. It reads more like an extremely interesting MBA case study, and includes a special epilogue chapter about Steve Jobs also without the one-sided negativity of the authorized biography.

One aspect of “To Pixar and Beyond” that was interesting was the strategic aspects described with financial aspects of Pixar and even includes the subject of Branding which would be of intense interest to CDPUG members.

I encourage my friends and fellow creatives and techies to read this title.

I also have to add a humorous side note: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Kermit the Frog, Alfred E. Neuman, and myself were all born in the same year, 1955. It amuses me to have something in common with each of these notable celebrities. If anyone was going to write a pamphlet about me it would be entitled “To CDPUG and Beyond.” 😉



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