UC Berkeley

Former Pixar CTO Creates ToyTalk

Oren Jacob was watching his young daughter Skype with her grandmother and when she finished chatting on her mobile device, she turned to her toys.

"Dad," she said, "can I use this to talk to them?" 

Jacob, a former Pixar chief technology officer, started thinking about the possibility and began creating what became ToyTalk, an app for kids that allows them to interact with characters.

"At the highest level, ToyTalk exists to create characters in conversation with an audience," he told Press: Here.

ToyTalk helps create both apps and physical toys. notably the Hello Barbie, a new offering from Mattel scheduled to launch later this year, which reportedly has conversations with its owner.

Aside from ToyTalk, Jacob also is mentor and business professor at UC Berkeley where he helps entrepreneurs create and launch their products -- one of which was Krave Jerky, which sold for $200 million to Hershey. 

Jacob said that his main role was getting his students to learn about their customers and find out from them how to improve their products, but he agreed that it's not all of it.  He said, "In the end . . . the entrepreneur walking in has some faith-based belief that they have an idea worth pursuing."

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