Laika, Inc Reviews

Updated October 21, 2014
Updated October 21, 2014
35 Reviews
2.0
35 Reviews
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Travis Knight
19 Ratings

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  1.  

    An Animation Studio taking chances!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Laika, Inc full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Working with a great team and producing great movies

    Cons

    The commute from Portland can be long

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    Bittersweet

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Laika, Inc full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Dynamic work environment populated with enthusiastic artisans. Predominantly collaborative community among art department crews. Loved being a part of telling great stories in an off-beat medium.

    Cons

    Management is cliquish and controlling. Politics and nepotism govern regardless of proven productivity and effectiveness. Old fashioned bromance culture is rampant and cumbersome to navigate in the shops of the art department. Work harder not smarter is strictly enforced.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Hire professionals at professional rates and you will get professional results. Management would reap better results from crews by listening and considering rather than dismissing and condescending.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3. 1 person found this helpful  

    Creative and fun people, but bad company to work for

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Laika, Inc full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    The amount of awesomely talented and friendly people you get to work with makes it worth while, free specialty food and coffee (on occasion) with weekly "friday parties" are a nice end to a hard working week.

    Cons

    Where do I start? Well lets see.. Middle management is a joke. They often take credit for the hard work that the departments put out (while they contribute very little, not to mention not qualified for their position), and can be very cliquey. Many people in upper positions got there by being friends with the boss.. They don't like to promote from within - they would rather hire someone from outside the company, and often times even from outside the US.. even tho we have tons of US citizens out of work and wanting the job. meanwhile the people that bust their butts trying to get that promotion or pay raise never get it. They are good at dangling the carrot in front of your face, stringing you along to keep you around for as long as they can get away with it. The environment is very toxic, and communication is non-existent. And the worst part about it is no one wants to stick their neck out to mention anything to better the environmental situation because they fear they will be fired or blacklisted. The company is run by fear - a very sad way to run a company if you ask me.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    First off, hire some middle management who are actually qualified to run a department. Secondly, stop treating your employee's like they are replaceable and worthless. It does no good for the moral of the company when everyone is down in the dumps because they are treated like crap.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5. 3 people found this helpful  

    My experience at Laika

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Laika, Inc full-time

    Pros

    I enjoy the work I am doing, its creative. I love it. The downside is having to do this work in the environment I describe below.

    Cons

    Artists are observers, they notice detail, they possess an acute emotional sensibility.

    During my time at Laika I have seen many of my fellow artists become discouraged, anxious and depressed by the environment here. They feel under appreciated and are ground down by a system that only serves a few. Many department leads and supervisors lack the necessary management skills, there is a lack of communication and no time for growing or evolving. They want maximum output so they look good on paper. This means you will work in a job well below your skill level for less pay than you can get elsewhere producing widgets as fast as you can with little to no thanks

    Many take credit for their departments achievements when they contributed very little. The only things that are celebrated are ridiculous markers like number of shots done that week. A shot can be extremely simple or extremely complex but that is lost on them, its all about the bottom line, impressing the people they answer to and having a good looking spreadsheet

    I couldn’t agree more with the reviewer who discussed the lack of open communication and transparency. This comes from a place of fear and control, it is such a toxic unproductive chest tightening way of running an organization. It can also be very cliquey. Certain people are in positions only via their friendship and/or networking abilities while other more talented individuals are overlooked.

    Adding fuel to the fire is that Laika being the only gig in town, there are no other options so people are too nervous to rock the boat and there is a pervasive low hum of discontent that is soul draining

    Another issue is the pervasive recruiting of overseas talent. There are clearly American citizens that are equally or better equipped to do the work which makes this activity a criminal offense. It is often whispered about but of course people are too scared to say anything for fear of loosing their job or being blacklisted.

    I know every place has its issues but this place could be so much better, its so close and yet so far away from there

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Please read the reviews here, there is a common thread for a reason

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
  6. 2 people found this helpful  

    Great company still trying to get its legs

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Hillsboro, OR
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Hillsboro, OR

    I worked at Laika, Inc full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    You work with fantastic, talented, interesting, and hard-working people from around the world. Portland is a fantastic city to live in (or near, as we'll see in the cons) and very affordable, especially compared to the rest of the West Coast. Name recognition is becoming more prevalent, and the quality of the work is undeniable.

    Cons

    LAIKA, though advertised as being in Portland, is actually half an hour drive west (no traffic) in an area called Hillsboro, but don't expect the rent to be cheaper out there, as the proximity to Intel drives up prices. And you will be renting, because the company has a high rate of turnover. People are routinely lost once a project completes, without any idea if they'll be able to come back or not. The company seems to be trying to remedy the situation, but everyone I ever spoke with didn't feel confident that they'd still have a job in a year.

    Pay is substandard for industry, but Portland is cheaper than other cities, though it really isn't a perfect scale. Also, I've yet to work anywhere that actually pays this mythical "industry standard", so there's that.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Find a way to retain people from project to project, and let department heads tell outstanding employees when they can be expected back, instead of only letting them say, "We hope something happens." Long term planning seems to be a company-wide issue, and that leads to pessimism and anxiety in current (as well as former) employees.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7. 1 person found this helpful  

    Creative team of artists, company culture is broken

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Laika, Inc full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Incredibly talented group of artists and filmmakers. The projects are unique and they are pushing animation into areas that no other studios have the will to go after.

    Cons

    Upper management doesn't seem interested in really taking care of the artists doing the work, and don't seemed interested in building a lasting company culture. It's a shame because the work is incredible, but they don't realize that they could be building something bigger.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep up the great work on screen, but pay more attention to building a company that your team loves.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8. 5 people found this helpful  

    be undervalued and underpaid at Laika

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Laika, Inc full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Work with the most awesome, collaborative and creatively agile people in the arts. Rise to the challenges of working for a company that continually raises the bar of what is possible. Utilize the best of traditional craftsmanship with cutting edge technology. Feel like you are contributing to a real masterpiece of animation art. Really great fellow employees help to make the cons only slightly more bearable.

    Cons

    Expect to regularly feel under-appreciated . Feel like you will never perform adequately in your job, even though you know you outperform most people in the creative field who don't have the stamina to work in this tremendously challenging environment. Expect to be underpaid, certainly by American standards, but especially by European standards. Expect that HODs and management won't respond to repeated multiple employee requests (via company-wide post production surveys and individual performance reviews) to create a more appreciative, less underhanded, and better-paying environment. After that, don't be surprised if you are not rehired for the next project, but not given an explanation, or even reasonable constructive criticism in your performance review. This company is extremely political, in some cases underhanded and petty, and not concerned about the moral of the employees.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Be more supportive, honest, warm and receptive. You won't come of as weak for doing so, in fact, you will be more honorable. Pay BETTER across the board, be more transparent in your salaries. Employees are comparing notes more and more on this kind of thing.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    LAIKA - Where Weird Wins

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Hillsboro, OR
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Hillsboro, OR

    I have been working at Laika, Inc full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Where Weird Wins...but it's also the closest thing to working at Santa's Workshop as you're going to get.

    Seeing the characters, props, sets all come to life and put together on the stage is hands down the most amazing thing I've ever seen in animation! I imagine it's what ILM looked like back in the 70's and it's pretty damn cool.

    The studio has great insurance, medical, dental, vision. There's a 401k available but no matching. The break room is called "The Canteen" and is very nice and quite place to sit and have a coffee. Speaking if which the coffee is fantastic as you would expect. They actually do tastings every now and then. No gym on-sit but they subsidize the cost of a local gym or offer discounts to gyms you find off-site. We have soccer across the street, some people play softball, kick-ball after hours and for the young at heart there's 4-Square during lunch hours where all are seen having fun.

    They offer a number of family friendly events and outings from wine bus to soccer matches or a baseball game at the local field. The company parties are a great reward and celebration for everyone's hard work. Not all studios go all-out for their holiday parties and wrap parties but I can honestly say that Laika does it up right.

    The studio location is in Hillsboro is twenty minutes outside of Portland with no traffic 30min-1hr with if it’s crazy rain or snow, yep it snows here I think that’s a Pro. If you have a family and prefer a quieter lifestyle the Hillsboro/Beaverton area is fine and has a better school district than Portland. If you're young and single or just prefer the Portland hipster lifestyle P-Town is close enough. As well the Tri-Met system is near enough to bike to the studio...if you like biking in the rain, which many people here do.

    Plenty of food options locally with-in walking distance. Or all the free PB&J you can handle at the studio along with fresh fruit. They serve up the occasional free breakfast or express-bar, beers/sodas, snacks served up every Friday evening prior to the end of the day. They have a massage therapist and acupuncture person who comes by once a week.

    There’s lots of free swag and gifts throughout the production, which is always cool by me.

    They don't spit on me when I come for work...can all animation studios boast the same?

    Cons

    Where Weird Wins...Yep it's weird, very weird and it rains alot but hey it's The Great Northwest.

    It's a studio of Stop-Motion elitist (its something to take pride in) and probably the largest collection of introverted artists in the collective Animation-Industry.

    Although there's "Cons" all studios have their problems as does Laika.

    We don't have a slide or scooters or any of that crap. But as a whole the studio could improve the creative look/feel of the studio space. Our studio is basically just a warehouse so there's not a lot of windows/lighting or typical studio space you might find in a normal animation studio. So yeah...no bar.

    Sadly a lot of the materials used are somewhat toxic and need to be ventilated or handled properly...however you still smell that stuff from time to time because that's what our movies are made of.

    As I mentioned most people keep to themselves, I would say Laika people are a little guarded but so is management and some are just plain out mean people...yep go figure right, but at least they don't hide it.

    HR is also some how the head of Recruiting so you'll find yourself discussing your wages with the same person that you might need to talk with about personal issues with management. I'm not sure how that's legal?

    Laika has a lot of young people who don't mind working hard for low wages or a bunch of higher-level artists/management who have forgotten what the animation industry looks like outside of Laika. Or have no experience outside of the studio.

    So yeah, "Cons" Laika has

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Hang out on a Friday and get to know your employees, let's grab a beer and talk about where this ship is sailing.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10. 8 people found this helpful  

    Heartbreaking

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Laika, Inc full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    As several other people have said, the main draw here is the talent of the other artists you'll be working with. It was a rare privilege to work with so many world class artists at this studio
    Portland. To the extent that it can be sustained (which may not be long) the chance to live in this amazing small city and work in animation is great.

    Cons

    God, there are so many.
    The commute: Most of the employees live in Portland and the studio is in Hillsboro, which is a nightmare of suburban strip malls and chain stores. The commute is the worst in the area and would regularly take an hour each way (25 miles)
    The culture at the studio: As several others have mentioned, the studio is severely mismanaged by people who really don't have the right experience in the industry (and since many of the artists have a great deal of experience in the industry, this is really hard to watch happen over and over again). The CEO has a clique around him who have been there for too long, who have little to no experience outside of the bubble of the studio and who don't seem to be well-rooted in reality.
    It really is hard to feel how depressed and anxious the artists and staff are there all the time, how much people fear for their jobs, all the time working intense schedules and giving their all for their craft.
    I never felt that Travis had an understanding of what it means to have moved around the world to do what you love and are committed to, to be depending on it to pay the bills; I always felt that his speeches about how hard everyone was working etc etc were hollow and essentially the same line you hear over and over if you've working in the animation industry long enough: you're all great but we've had to make some hard decisions, yada yada.
    HR gives lip-service to caring about the employees but I don't think anyone really believes it. Any time you mention anything that might be improved the reasons that thing doesn't need to be improved are coming at you virtually before you've had a chance to finish your sentence (at least learn some semblance of listening skills!

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    You are letting world class talent fall through your fingers and LAIKA is starting to get a very bad reputation for using and letting go artists who have worked very hard to help you make more your projects. I have heard, first hand, of more than a few people who won't consider working here again, no matter what the money or the draw, because the environment is so toxic; there are too many people in positions of power who are frankly bullies, who have treated people under them abysmally and are still there because they are friends with the right people, or who are making fear-based cuts to teams that have taken years to assemble from around the world.
    It's no small thing to bring together a group of people who have the skills that you need and who can also work together well, but so many people have been let go recently and in such a way that these teams are being destroyed. As with many disasters, I don't think that the higher-ups at LAIKA can see what harm this has caused or have any idea how difficult it will be to get their work done if they alienate such a huge percentage of a small community of animators of this caliber.

    Plan for the long term.
    Stop letting people go the second you don't immediately need them again. This is called investment.
    Invest in the teams who can make the work you want to make. These people are sometimes not replaceable at all; it is a very select skillset and there frankly isn't an inexhaustible supply of them in the world (though you wouldn't think it from the way the company is run)
    Stop promising what you cannot provide, namely concurrent projects that will allow your employees to be able to count on an income and stability.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11. 8 people found this helpful  

    Come and enjoy a slow, living death in suburban warehouse.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Art Department in Hillsboro, OR
    Former Employee - Art Department in Hillsboro, OR

    I worked at Laika, Inc as a contractor

    Pros

    Bucolic farmland is only a short drive away from the putty-colored warehouse that houses the studio...plenty of "u-pick" berry farms abound. A (city owned) dog park exists next door...you can think about the pets you're spending 50+ hours/week apart from there. When you wear your company-logo hoody into a coffee shop, the barista with the lip-ring will be dutifully impressed with your "creative" career. The Oregon coast is slightly closer to Hillsboro than Portland. Your parents will be delighted that they will finally have something to boast about you to other parents. A movie poster, and a company mug, will be yours...as gifts. Only short walk away dwells a Taco Bell/Long John Silvers in the SAME restaurant. You might see a real, live Nutria in the pond behind the restaurant. The nearby McMenamins has inspired landscaping around the patio. The local Fred Meyer is technically, a SUPER Fred Meyer...that means it's a freakin' department store...you can buy jewelry, pants...whatever your thumping little heart desires. Does that whet your appetite?

    Cons

    Do you want to move to Oregon and be managed by a gaggle of sycophants and pursed-lipped careerists who struggle to pay obeisance to the heir of a sneaker fortune, and their balkanized politics create constipated workflow, causing you to leave work at 7pm at the earliest, and when you get home you're too tired to make dinner, so you eat some chips and refried beans, fall asleep on the sofa in puddle of drool, and wake up to "Law & Order SVU" blaring on the TV, leading to another restless, nightmare-plagued sleep, and eventually you get furloughed off the project, but notice that the company posted your same job online the same week, and you think you're going to start your big "personal project" but you get destitute and depressed, and all of your hard work and sacrifice amounted to absolutely nothing...except for a silent tear in God's eye...because no one else cares?

    Well do you?

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stay in your offices and keep gazing at your imdb profile.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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