Culture preservation key

first_imgBURBANK – During the months that Robert Iger and Steve Jobs spent negotiating The Walt Disney Co.’s purchase of Pixar Animation Studios, the dollars and cents of the deal were just a part of it. Of utmost importance to Pixar founder Jobs was that the well-known creative culture of the Emeryville-based animation company – one of the most unique within the entertainment industry – be fiercely protected. “Most of the talks have been about preserving the Pixar culture,” Jobs said Tuesday during a conference call with analysts. “We all know that (the culture) is the thing that is going to determine the success in the long run. Time will tell.” Jobs said that during the talks, he came to like and trust Disney CEO Iger in contrast to the strained relationship he had with Iger’s predecessor, Michael D. Eisner, who had been blamed for a talent exodus from the Disney ranks during the second decade of his 20-year tenure. Among the high-profile departures under Eisner was that of Jeffrey Katzenberg, now head of DreamWorks Animation, which has become a force with such films as “Shrek,” “Shrek 2” and “Madagascar.” Iger said retaining Pixar’s culture and talent is “an incredibly important ingredient in making these movies. It’s a magnet to attracting talent.” “I’m very sensitive to what can happen when a company is bought,” Iger added. “I am deeply committed that Pixar is allowed to exist in the form that it has existed.” Mergers and acquisitions expert Fred Lipman, a partner in the law firm Blank Rome, said Tuesday that the merging of the two diverse business cultures is essential if Pixar, with fewer than 800 employees, is to continue to thrive under the massive Disney umbrella. “It sort of reminds me of AOL and Time Warner,” Lipman said. “The real problem in these kinds of situations where you have a traditional culture and a very open culture, it presents all sorts of serious problems. How long before Disney imposes its culture on them or changes the compensation system? The future of Pixar depends on keeping the top-notch employees so Disney doesn’t end up overpaying for Pixar.” Media analyst Dennis McAlpine of McAlpine and Associates agreed. “It can be a win-win if everything works the way it’s supposed to, but there are potential problems and land mines that can blow up if they do the wrong things relating to people,” he said. “How will Iger relate to Jobs and vice versa? How is John Lasseter reacting to being back at Disney? You have a lot of people at Pixar who have been at Disney. Do they want to go back and do the Disney animation people want to be back at Pixar?” Lasseter, who will be the division’s chief creative officer, released a statement Tuesday indicating that he is pleased to be back under the Disney fold. “For many of us at Pixar, it was the magic of Disney that influenced us to pursue our dreams of becoming animators, artists, storytellers and filmmakers,” Lasseter said. “For 20 years we have created our films in the manner inspired by Walt Disney and the great Disney animators – great stories and characters in an environment made richer by technical advances. It is exciting to continue in this tradition with Disney, the studio that started it all.” Greg Hernandez, (818) 713-3758 [email protected] AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img