Read Skydance CEO David Ellison’s Note to Staff About Hiring John Lasseter

“Let me be clear: we have not entered into this decision lightly,” Ellison writes

Last Updated: January 9, 2019 @ 12:11 PM

Along with his announcement that John Lasseter has been named head of Skydance Animation, Skydance CEO David Ellison released a letter that was sent internally to colleagues about the decision.

Ellison said that Lasseter has taken ownership of his past “admitted mistakes” and that they hired outside counsel to investigate the sexual misconduct accusations against Lasseter.

“Let me be clear: we have not entered into this decision lightly,” Ellison wrote.

Ellison adds that he and the senior leadership team at Skydance will hold town hall meetings with all Skydance Animation employees Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the transition.

Lasseter exited Disney in December 2017 after announcing a sabbatical in November 2017 because of a Hollywood Reporter story in which “former Pixar insiders” said he frequently made a habit of “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes” of women at the company.

Read the full letter sent to Skydance colleagues below:

I wanted to share with you first some news that we are announcing today.

Industry visionary John Lasseter is joining us to lead Skydance Animation.  John will be based in Los Angeles and will report directly to me.

Bill Damaschke will be transitioning from his current role, and we are hopeful he will choose to remain within the Skydance family.

The attached press release outlines the news more fully, but I wanted to share a few things that have informed our decision to bring John on board.

First, no one can dispute John’s legacy building Pixar and Walt Disney Animation into the leadership position they now enjoy.  His creative vision and forward-looking approach to animation has transformed the entire industry.  At his heart, John is a storyteller – with a unique ability to tell beautiful and emotionally-driven tales that resonate and inspire audiences around the globe.

Second, I know many of you are aware of John’s admitted mistakes in his prior role helming those studios. John has been forthright in taking ownership of his behavior, apologized for his actions and has spent the past year on sabbatical analyzing and improving his workplace behavior.

Third, we employed outside counsel to thoroughly investigate the allegations, which we considered serious and have warranted our full attention as we made this important decision. The senior leadership team and I have all carefully evaluated the findings of this extensive investigation.

Let me be clear:  we have not entered into this decision lightly.

While we would never minimize anyone’s subjective views on behavior, we are confident after many substantive conversations with John, and as the investigation has affirmed, that his mistakes have been recognized.  We are certain that John has learned valuable lessons and is ready to prove his capabilities as a leader and a colleague.  And he has given his assurance that he will comport himself in a wholly professional manner that is the expectation of every Skydance colleague and partner.

We are very hopeful and excited about what the coming years will bring, as John’s art transcends generations and cultures, while deeply resonating on a fundamental level with what makes us uniquely human.

The senior leadership team and I will be hosting a town hall for all Skydance Animation colleagues shortly to speak with you directly about this transition.  Additional town halls at SDM and SDI will take place today and tomorrow.

Skydance Animation colleagues, please be on the lookout for a call-to-gather email.   I look forward to speaking with you in person.

Thanks,

David