Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pixar Chief

Not quite the kindly and avuncular studio head depicted in all those sunny books about the animation business.

... A top Pixar producer reveals in her email that [Ed] Catmull had in fact flown down to Sony Animation and met with the two co-heads, Penney Finkelman Cox and Sandy Rabins, to rope Sony into the non-recruitment cartel. That meeting presumably took place in 2004, when Catmull emailed Steve Jobs his intention to meet Sony about poaching employees. The email from Pixar’s producer reads:

“I do know he [Catmull] flew down and met with them [the two Sony executives] around a year ago and asked them to quit calling our employees.”

After reading that email to Catmull during last year’s deposition, the plaintiffs’ attorney needled him:

Q: That suggests or confirms that you actually – your memory is correct. You did go down there and talk with them [Sony].

CATMULL: Yes. ...

It's okay to negotiate Personal Service Contracts with employees and then defend those contracts against other employers that try to recruit those personnel.

But it's not okay to bully other companies into participating in wage and hiring conspiracies against workers who have the right to sell their skills and talents on a (supposedly) open market. (It's called "capitalism" in case you're wondering.)

Reading these Pando articles, it's pretty clear that few if any of the players thought the wage suppression thing was any big deal, but just a normal and rational way to do business. (And some of the folks mentioned in these e-mails and depositions are freaking lawyers.)

But the Sherman anti-trust act is such a quaint old law, anyway.

And the Brew's take:

With these documents, we now know that DreamWorks and Disney also undermined free market principles by colluding to restrict their employees’ wages and job opportunities. These revelations extend beyond the scope of the class-action suit, which is in the process of being settled with a paltry $9 million slap on the wrist for Pixar and Lucasfilm. ...

Not to worry; no big dents in cash flow will occur among our fine, entertainment conglomerates. Nobody in the corporate suites will be fined or go to jail. The wheels of commerce will spin serenely on.


Site Meter