Today, Bill Collis, CEO of The Foundry, and Brad Peebler, president of Luxology announced the merger of the two computer graphics companies, bringing together The Foundry’s award- winning 2D and 3D visual effects software and Luxology’s unique 3D modeling and rendering technology together under one group umbrella. The new company’s flagship products are Nuke and Modo.
Brad Peebler, Simon Robinson and Bill Collis
It’s a merger made in … Starbucks, it turns out. Specifically, the Starbucks down the sidewalk from Industrial Light & Magic on the Letterman Digital campus in San Francisco.
“We were invited to a meeting by John Knoll [vfx supervisor at ILM], a year ago,” Collis says. “John’s view of the world was that he loved the creativity and the artistic freedom in Modo, and he was getting good results out of Katana and Nuke, so if we could combine the two, artistic freedom and pipeline tools, it would be a powerful pipeline. He said, ‘If would be awesome if you guys could do that.’ We went, “Yes, of course it would,” and shuffled out the room backwards. Then, we went to Starbucks and realized that we could be friends. But, it would be even better if we could be one company.”
One year later finds them again on the ILM campus meeting with reporters to discuss the merger. The two company leaders see the blend providing advantages in marketing now and engineering and product development to come.
“We developed our core technology so that it can be integrated in other applications,” Peebler says. “So there are all kinds of things we could do. Our engineers have been going back and forth for nine months. The question is what we should do first.”
What they will do first reflects the philosophy of both sides of the new company. “Part of the fun of making this announcement is that we can now talk openly to our customers,” says Simon Robinson, chief scientist for The Foundry. “There’s a long road to travel to make these connections right between the products. We need to go and ask our customers what they want.”
image courtesy of Hughes Poncet
As for marketing, the merger means The Foundry can leverage Luxology’s inroads into the game development and design industries, and Luxology can take advantage of The Foundry’s ties to film and broadcast. “As of this week, we’re sharing sales and marketing,” Collis says. “Product wise, we’ll still have separate products. But, people wise, where it makes sense, we’re sharing already.”
The dual focus on market segments gives both sides new freedom, and both intend to grow.
“The Foundry’s laser focus on visual effects frees us to give more attention to the design space,” Peebler says. “We were in a place where we were ready to expand. Now the timing is right. We’ve already posted some job openings online.”
Adds Robinson, “We have dabbled in their [design and game] markets, but it’s hard to dabble. Now, we can concentrate on our core visual effects focus. We expect to be over 200 people by the end of the year. It’s fun to be hiring in the current climate.”
Meanwhile, everything stays the same, with both sides of the companies intending to continue their open relationships with other vendors. Products stay the same. The sales channels remain the same. The websites stay the same.
“We’ll continue playing well with others,” Peebler says. “We’ve always had that philosophy and I know The Foundry does, too.” Even with the company that has a product line most similar to that of the new merged company?
“It will be fun to continue working with Autodesk as a partner and keeping them on their toes, too,” he says. “Competition is good.”