Saturday, May 4, 2013

Pixar Founding Employees

As you probably know, Pixar was formed in early 1986 when Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith spun the computer graphics group out of Lucasfilm (with the funding of Steve Jobs). When Pixar spun out of Lucasfilm, there were 40 employees, including Catmull and Smith. If you visit Smith's website, you can see some of Pixar's founding documents and a list of all 40 original employees. One thing I find fascinating is the large number of these employees that are still with Pixar today!

Neftali Alvarez Annie Arbogast Malcolm Blanchard* George Cagle
Loren Carpenter Ed Catmull* Susan Anderson Catmull Shannon Collins
Don Conway Rob Cook Lynn DeKeyser David DiFrancesco*
Janice Diane Bob Drebin Lisa Ellis Craig Good
Ralph Guggenheim* Charlie Gunn Doug Hagemeier Dennis Jennings
David Johansen Bill Kaiser John Lasseter Mark Leather
Sam Leffler Adam Levinthal Matt Martin Jeff Mock
Lane Molpus Tom Noggle Eben Ostby Tom Porter
Bill Reeves John Seamons Glenn Sharp Alvy Ray Smith*
Deirdre Warin Jim Wilson Sara Wright Bruce Young

In the list above, 15 of the 40 names are in bold text. These are the founding employees still with Pixar, 27 years after its formation!

But even before Pixar was an independent company, before folks like John Lasseter, Loren Carpenter, Bill Reeves and Craig Good joined up with Catmull and Smith at Lucasfilm, some of these folks were together at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) back in the late 1970s. The names with an asterisk were all at NYIT. As you can see, 3 people - Malcolm Blanchard, Ed Catmull and David DiFrancesco, have been working together for at least 34 years! In addition, Tom Duff was also at NYIT in the late '70s and is still with the company today (he left Lucasfilm in 1984 but came back to Pixar a few years after the spinoff).

Given today's environment of contracting work out and short-term engagements, the fact that so many Pixarians have stayed with the company is an amazing accomplishment, and a testament to the  culture that Catmull, Lasseter and the others have built. I think their commitment to each other and their common dream of creating computer animated films has a lot to do with the continued success of the company.