Check out this article from Geek O System on how Pixar’s bosses Alvy Ray Smith and Ed Catmull saved their employees from getting fired:
How Pixar Bosses Saved Their Employees from Layoffs
by Robert Quigley | 10:07 am, January 11th, 2011
Today, Pixar may be a multibillion dollar company seemingly capable of doing no wrong in the box office, but in its early days as Lucasfilmâ€™s computer animation division, its future was far from certain. Indeed, in the mid-â€™80s, some at Lucasfilm doubted the value of computer animation, and the division faced deep layoffs. Then, its two heads, Alvy Ray Smith and Ed Catmull, saved it in a positively Pixaresque way.
The Harvard Business Review recently spoke to 25+ year Pixar vet Craig Good, who recounted the remarkable story:
[Lucasfilm president Doug] Norby was pressing Catmull and Smith to do some fairly deep layoffs. The two couldnâ€™t bring themselves to do it. Instead, Catmull tried to make a financial case for keeping his group intact, arguing that layoffs would only reduce the value of a unit that Lucasfilm could profitably sell â€¦ But Norby was unmoved. As Craig tells it: â€śHe was pestering Ed and Alvy for a list of names from the Computer Division to lay off, and Ed and Alvy kept blowing him off. Finally came the order: You will be in my office tomorrow morning at 9:00 with a list of names.â€ť
So what did these two bosses do? â€śThey showed up in his office at 9:00 and plunked down a list,â€ť Craig told me. â€śIt had two names on it: Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith.â€ť
The gutsy move worked, and not a single employee of what would soon become Pixar was fired. Not long afterwards, Lucasfilm spun Pixar off as its own company under Catmullâ€™s and Smithâ€™s leadership, selling it to Steve Jobs for $5 million; two decades later, Disney would buy it for $7.4 billion.
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