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Why is Pixar headquartered in Emeryville?
The short version:
Pixar’s roots are in, where Ed Catmull came to start the Computer Division. After Pixar spun off we stayed there in for four years while trying to find a place of our own. Eventually we found rental space in Point Richmond, and moved there in June, 1990. After it was clear that we needed a space of our own and, after the , we had the cash to do something about it.
The hunt for a new home was difficult. Finding good commercial real estate in the is a lot harder than you’d think. We looked at lots of buildings in Marin and the , including one or two in . Finally we were (I found out through my sources) about to sign a lease on some waterfront property in . Based on that I made an offer on my first home, a loft condo, in Emeryville. Then, while the deal was closing, the dummy who owned the property in Richmond decided that, since was involved, he could jack up the price. Bad idea.
So we were back to square one. And suddenly (I love that phrase in a story) commercial real estate, plus a fresh IPO meant that it took something like 14 nanoseconds for Pixar to snatch it up.got browbeat by the city of to stay in the city limits and dropped their option on a 12-acre property in Emeryville. It was the site of the old Del Monte fruit canning factory. Twelve acres of prime
Steve oversaw the design and construction of what is now the Pixar main building. In case you wonder where the money fromwent, we’re working in it. We moved in November, 2000.
Speaking for myself, and no doubt more than a few others, we consider it a feature that we’re not anywhere near . That distance gives us better perspective and more normal lives. Note that we’re hardly the only filmmaking company or animation studio up here. Lucasfilm, American Zoetrope, Tippet Studios, and PDI all call the Bay Area home as well.
Steve was never involved in the day-to-day at Pixar so the commute didn’t bother him much. There were large stretches of time, even in Richmond, where we never saw him around. (Someone spotted him up there one day driving around, trying to remember where our driveway entrance was.)and, later, , kept him pretty busy.
At least for a while I looked really clever for buying a place so close to work. Friends asked if I had inside information. The truth was that I did, but that it said we’d be in Richmond. As my grandmother used to say, it’s better to be lucky than smart.