Ex-Pixar ex­ec­u­tive to head fed­eral tech in­no­va­tion ser­vice

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -


A for­mer Pixar ex­ec­u­tive who won the first ever Os­car for soft­ware is tak­ing over a US gov­ern­ment agency re­spon­si­ble for im­prov­ing fed­eral dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy. Rob Cook, whose cred­its in­clude “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2,” will be­come com­mis­sioner of the Tech­nol­ogy Trans­for­ma­tion Ser­vice on Oct. 31. He will have top se­cret se­cu­rity clear­ance.

Cook is cred­ited with ad­vance­ments in soft­ware-driven an­i­ma­tion. He said in a state­ment that the US needs firstrate tech­nol­ogy ex­per­tise, ef­fec­tive re­la­tion­ships with in­dus­try and part­ner­ships through­out gov­ern­ment. He de­clined, through a spokesman, to speak to The As­so­ci­ated Press. Cook’s ap­point­ment was for three years. He has been a Demo­cratic donor to the cam­paigns of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton.

The Tech­nol­ogy Trans­for­ma­tion Ser­vice is part of the US Gen­eral Ser­vices Ad­min­is­tra­tion. It was cre­ated in April to “trans­form the way gov­ern­ment builds, buys and shares tech­nol­ogy.” It in­cludes “18F,” a Sil­i­con Val­ley-style startup for gov­ern­ment dig­i­tal projects that was the sub­ject of a highly crit­i­cal re­view by the agency’s in­spec­tor gen­eral over its fi­nan­cial losses of $32 mil­lion and lack of vi­able fi­nan­cial plan­ning, among other is­sues.

Other re­spon­si­bil­i­ties

Cook will also over­see in­vest­ments, ac­qui­si­tions and the pres­i­den­tial in­no­va­tion fel­lows pro­gram, among other of­fices.

Cook joined Pixar in 1981 when it was part of Lu­cas­film and was the pri­mary au­thor of Pixar’s Ren­derMan soft­ware, which cre­ates photo-re­al­is­tic com­puter im­ages for an­i­ma­tion, ef­fects and de­sign. It has been used in 19 of the last 20 films to win Os­cars for vis­ual ef­fects. Cook later started a dig­i­tal imag­ing com­pany and headed a soft­ware com­pany he sold to Mi­crosoft, be­fore re­turn­ing to Pixar as vice pres­i­dent of soft­ware de­vel­op­ment. Since 2012, he has been a busi­ness con­sul­tant to promi­nent Sil­i­con Val­ley com­pa­nies.

“Rob’s renowned ex­pe­ri­ence, both as a soft­ware de­vel­oper and in cul­ti­vat­ing in­no­va­tive teams through­out his ca­reer, are in­cred­i­ble ad­di­tions to our long-term goal of en­hanc­ing the way gov­ern­ment uses tech­nol­ogy to de­liver world-class ser­vices for ci­ti­zens,” Tony Scott, the US chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer, said in a state­ment.

Cook won an Os­car in 2001 for soft­ware and in 2009 an award for a life­time of con­tri­bu­tions to com­puter graph­ics from a com­puter pro­fes­sion­als group. Cook’s job pays be­tween $123,175 and $185,100.

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