Former Zynga VP Maureen Fan loved animated movies as a child, and she used to get very engulfed in fictional fantasy worlds. This passion grew with time, and she developed an interest in bringing new stories to life on the big screen to inspire others.
Fan has big dreams
Fan is now the CEO of Baobab Studios, a virtual reality company that specializes in animation.
She told Tech Insider, “I want people in the world to feel that sense of wonder that they had when they were a kid. That’s what animation does for me.”
Fan works with a team comprised of former employees from Pixar, Disney, and DreamWorks Animation. They all hope that by working together, they will be able to change the way people experience films by placing audiences at the center of immersive animated worlds.
Baobab was founded last year, and it just put out its first virtual reality animated short Invasion. This movie is six minutes long and includes narration from Ethan Hawke. Viewers are put inside an immersive animated world that features bunnies and aliens.
Fan told Tech Insider that she took 15 years to fully realize this ambition, and since she came from an immigrant family, it was difficult to pursue. Instead of following her dreams, she went to eBay to work as a UI designer and then went into product. Fan spent six years at eBay and on nights and on weekends, she took animation classes from Lucasfilm animators. In 2008, she worked at Pixar for three months as a production intern on Toy Story 3.
Zynga gave the much-needed capital
The field of animation did not excite her much, and she began to think about if she was in the right place. Starting an animation studio of her own was no doubt a better idea, but until she had a lot of capital to invest, it would not have made much sense for her to create a company.
This made Fan hold off, and in July 2009, she joined Zynga and eventually became VP of Games, overseeing the Farmville franchise. Fan continued to explore her passion, and on nights and weekends, she worked on a short film called The Dam Keeper, which was nominated for best animated short film at the 87th Academy Awards.
Then in March 2015, Fan left Zynga to launch Baobab Studios.