S U C K

"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 16 October 1995. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 

 
Toy Story
 

[Steve Jobs]

"A Reality Distortion Field."

 

That's how people describe the

effect Steve Jobs can create at

his hypefests, where he has the

uncanny ability to temporarily

make the most preposterous

schemes seem downright

practical. Since his parting

with Apple in 1985, though,

Jobs's track record has been

"insanely fucked," wrought with

a series of mis-steps generously

categorized as "ideas ahead of

their time." A decade later, one

of Jobs's post-Apple projects is

set to pay off big-time - to the

tune of $400 mil.

 

[Pixar]

Interesting news came down the

pike late last week with the

announcement that Pixar, which

Jobs invested $10mil in back in

1986, is planning on going

public with an IPO of 6.9

million shares at $12 to $14 per

share this fall. And if

consumer-driven excitement is

any indication of a company's

market potential, count on the

post-Toy Story Pixar to make

Jobs, who owns 30 million shares

(eighty percent of the company),

insanely rich once again.

 

[Toy Story]

That the Pixar/Disney Toy Story

will rake in the tall dollars is

beyond question. Pixar's

animators are notoriously

talented, and Toy Story's

director/writer is none other

than John Lasseter, the man

responsible for such animation

festival favorites as Luxo Jr. and

3-D Knickknack. Lasseter, along

with fellow ex-Disney malcontent

Tim Burton, left the fold back

in the early 80's and have since

gone on to establish themselves

as eye-candy auteurs, with

wildly divergent visions but

equal acclaim. Toy Story,

Lasseter's first feature, is

the antiseptic antipode to

Burton's dark kiddie-fodder

(Nightmare Before Christmas,

Edward Scissorhands, and

Batman Returns, to name a few),

and may very likely balance the

box-office scales between

Lasseter and his former

colleague.

 

[Toy Story Cast]

If buying into Netscape was

tantamount to buying a part of

the glitzy, hyped face of the

Internet, buying into Pixar

could be akin to buying into the

glitzy, hyped face of computer

power. And it's not a little

ironic that Jobs, who has made a

career out of trying to sell his

grand visions of the future, has

succeeded in the one realm where

the pitch itself commands the

price of admission.

 

[Mr. Potatohead]

The question is whether Jobs will

throw some of this newly-acquired

wealth back into his projects

that demand more cooperation

from the consumer than the

purchase of an $8 ticket (with a

$40 Buzz Lightyear doll thrown

in for good measure, of course).

While Jobs gushes about Toy

Story being the historical

equivalent of Snow White and

Technicolor, his other Big Idea,

though far less assured in its

success, may be far more

radical.

 

[NeXT Color Cube]

After banging the object drum to

industry indifference for the

last few years, Job's "other

company", NeXT, is in the

position to say "I told you so"

as the rest of the industry

catches up. The problem is that,

as is the case for most

pioneers, profiting from being

there first is not as easy as it

would seem. NeXT has had this

happen to them before, like

having to watch Microsoft's

Visual Basic capitalize on many

early NeXT innovations like the

Interface Builder. The end

result is a cool booth to visit

at Comdex, but you wouldn't want

to live there.

 

[About NeXT]

Pundits within the pocket

protector crowd tend to favor

one of two opinions about NeXT.

They either seem to think that

the company has fallen off the

face of the earth, or

conversely, that, like flared

pants, it's going to make a huge

comeback.

 

The fact is that after its early

affair with the academic

community, where scores of cubes

were deposited on students' desks

in a bizarre replay of Apple's

"Schools Can't Wait" Apple II

promotion, the company

rediscovered the profit motive

(probably drilled in with the

help of hand-made charts and

homespun homilies from former

board member H. Ross Perot)

and went after the big-ticket

world of enterprise systems.

 

[Muktuk]

That means databases, and we're

not talking FileMaker Pro here.

 

NeXT took its show to corporate

America, and has managed to

succeed where Apple has failed,

based on a technical lead in

rapid vertical-application

development tools - a happy

accident of NeXT's adoption of

the Mach kernel, that OS that

Carnegie-Mellon just happened to

have lying around when Jobs

needed one for his new black

box. Half a decade later, the

Object is the Advantage and NeXT

has started making money, which

means that Jobs is free to start

thinking big again.

 

[WebObjects]

WebObjects is NeXT's new big

thing. Think of it as Java for

Web servers: intelligent objects

running over high-speed networks

and across multiple OS's,

providing the back-end muscle

for truly interactive

information-rich applications.

 

[The Following Preview]

The beauty of WebObjects is that,

even though all that anybody has

seen of WebObjects is the

typical Jobs hand-waving on CNN

and some very handsomely crafted

flow charts, it's proven

technology. Information

Technology Solutions has been

shipping WebRex since before

this summer's ObjectWorld.

WebRex is a lot like WebObjects,

except it's not vaporware.

 

[LauGHiNGSTOCK]

Will NeXT, thanks to WebObjects,

transform from the LauGHiNGSTOCK

of the computer industry into a

smart, long-term investment

along the lines of Pixar? If you

believe in the product, you

could always apply for the job

at NeXT to develop it. The

compensation package includes

stock options, but maybe you

could swing a deal for some of

that Pixar stock instead.

 




courtesy of the Duke of URL and Strep Throat