You’ve heard a version of this story before: Steve Jobs calls some executive out of the blue to come work for him. Only this time the story turns out great … and the company wasn’t Apple. This episode of the a16z Podcast shares some of the journey that former CFO Lawrence Levy went on with Steve Jobs as they took Pixar — a company then on the verge of failure — to its IPO and subsequent greatest hits.
It’s sort of an adventure story but is really more of a quest for product-market fit. How did they figure out a model for such an old-but-new business (i.e., animation and entertainment)? How did they take an improbable plan and figure out how to make it work — both qualitatively and quantitatively? How did they then navigate and straddle the diverse worlds of Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and Wall Street? And finally, how did they price their IPO, which was also a symbol of Steve Jobs’ comeback story … a narrative that’s sometimes lost in the Apple story.
From the business of creativity to corporate culture, Levy — former CFO of Pixar, board member, and author of the new book To Pixar and Beyond: My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History — shares his (and Jobs’ untold) story. But it isn’t just a story about finding the right model and numbers to build, explain, and measure the business; it’s also, partly, about how to get the measure of one’s humanity, too.