In his new book, excerpted in the new issue of Fortune magazine and posted online today, Lawrence Levy wisely ties his experience as the chief financial officer of Pixar to his boss, Steve Jobs. Five years after his death and with millions of words typed about him, we remain fascinated by every aspect of the life of the business and creative genius who upended so many industries.
Yet the best parts of Levy’s book aren’t really about Jobs. And they aren’t about making animated films or the power of innovative technology. In fact, To Pixar and Beyond: My Unlikely Journey With Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History is a lovely and surprising discourse on topics business books rarely touch. Levy is a rare humanist in the world of finance and technology. In describing the pre-IPO, pre-Toy Story Pixar, he captures the fragile and wonderful workplace dynamic anyone who loves their (difficult) job can appreciate.
Levy’s experience was unique. Tasked by Jobs to take public a company that fit no one’s norms of an IPO prospect, Levy shows his diligent quest to learn how to position Pixar to investors. He also learned valuable lessons on the job about how to be an intermediary between a powerful but not-always-present leader and the people whose sweat equity made Pixar what it was. You wouldn’t be wrong in assuming there was tension between the great man and his employees. Reading how Levy played go-between is eye-opening and inspiring.
So let’s see: This delightful book is about finance, creative genius, workplace harmony, and luck. (Levy never does explain exactly why Jobs chose him to be Pixar’s CFO.) That’s a lot for one volume by a first-time author with a legal and financial background covering exceedingly well-trod material. At the very end, Levy’s book takes a totally unexpected turn toward being about life itself, and I won’t spoil the ending for you. Life obviously is about more than business, but few books discuss both so well. To Pixar and Beyond goes on sale Nov. 1.
BITS AND BYTES
Samsung waits for shoes to drop. Employees at the South Korean electronics giant are fretting about upcoming personnel reviews in the wake of the company's Galaxy Note 7 recall crisis. They expect major turnover and slashed bonuses. Meanwhile, American consumers have filed a class action lawsuit against Samsung for paying monthly charges on phones they were unable to use. (Fortune, Fortune, Bloomberg)
Google phone delights gadget gurus. Wired's David Pierce, a longtime Apple iPhone recommender, advises "You should get a Pixel," the search giant's new phone. The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern declared it "the best Android smartphone you can buy." And Recode's Walt Mossberg called the phone "classy" and "very, very good," citing the phone's "excellent cameras" and better-than-Siri embedded Google assistant. (Fortune, Wired, Wall Street Journal, Recode)
Intel smarts. Despite posting surprisingly good earnings (with revenue rising 9% from last year to $15.8 billion), Intel's stock dropped 6% after its earnings call. The problem: "the areas of strength and weakness were all wrong," as Fortune's Aaron Pressman notes. The company performed well in PC chip sales (not considered a growth area) and poorer than expected in data center chip sales (the new heart of the operation). (Fortune)
Yahoo has new clothes? The Internet icon—whose impending $4.83 billion sale to Verizon remains uncertain after the disclosure of a massive data breach—posted better than expected profits for the quarter, buoyed by cost cuts and growth in its emerging mobile, native, and video units despite a shrinking search business. Fortune's Jeff John Roberts questions whether an uptick in user activity signals a sustainable trend or, rather, a last gasp as people change their passwords and deactivate their accounts for good. (Fortune, Recode, New York Times, Fortune)
Fortune's Jeff John Roberts takes a deep dive into Google's $800 million bet on citywide sidewalk Internet. It seemed like a great idea at the time: replace thousands of aging pay phones on city streets with sidewalk Wi-Fi stations that include free iPod-style tablets. But in New York City, where dozens of the new stations are now popping up every month, there are serious doubts. Read (and watch) more on Fortune.com.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Priscilla Chan on Husband Mark Zuckerberg: We Challenge Each Other, by Michal Lev-Ram
Walmart and IBM Are Partnering to Put Chinese Pork on a Blockchain, by Robert Hackett
Salesforce Wasn't That Into Buying Twitter, Documents Show, by Barb Darrow
Daimler Made a Children's Book About Self-Driving Cars, by Kirsten Korosec
ONE MORE THING
IBM Chief Ginni Rometty says "artificial intelligence" is a misnomer. The field of research that encompasses data-sifting, pattern-finding thinking machines should really be called "intelligence augmentation," says Big Blue CEO Rometty in a recent op-ed. "Data is the great new natural resource of our time, and cognitive systems are the only way to get value from all its volume, variety, and velocity," she wrote. (Wall Street Journal)