Ton Roosendaal, Founder / Chairman, Blender Foundation
Ton Roosendaal studied Industrial Design in Eindhoven. Here he co-founded the animation studio NeoGeo, in 1988. This studio quickly became one of the largest 3D animation houses in the Netherlands. Within the studio Ton was responsible for both art direction and 3D software development.
In 1998, Ton founded a new company called Not a Number (NaN), to further market and develop NeoGeo's in-house 3D tool Blender. In 2000 the company secured 4.5 M growth financing by several investment companies. In 2001 NaN released a web browser plug-in for interactive 3D playback and games. Target was to share a free creation tool, and commercial versions of the software for distribution and publishing. Sadly, due to the ongoing difficult economic climate, NaN operations were shut down early 2002.
In May 2002 Ton Roosendaal started the non-profit Blender Foundation. He managed to get the former investors to agree on a unique plan. The "Free Blender" campaign sought to raise 100,000 EUR, as a one-time fee to make Blender open source. To everyone's shock and surprise the campaign reached the 100,000 EUR goal in only seven short weeks. This is commonly regarded as the first big 'crowd funding' on the internet.
Blender development continued since that day on blender.org driven by a team of far flung dedicated volunteers from around the world led by Blender's original creator, Ton Roosendaal. With Blender originating as an in-house creation tool, the day-to-day feedback and interaction of both developing and using the software was one of its most outstanding features. To bring this back, Ton established the Blender Institute in Amsterdam and organized a series of crowd-funded "Open Movie" projects. The best known films, with 10s of millions of views online, are Big Buck Bunny and Sintel - widely considered to be masterpieces of Free Culture.
In July 2009, Ton received an Honorary Doctorate in Technology from the Leeds Metropolitan University, for his outstanding contribution to creative technology.
Ton's recent highlights were the launch of the 'Blender Cloud' platform, to produce several well received short films, and to watch Pixar give a Blender demo in the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles. This strengthened him in the motivation that the time is ready to a next step - establish an feature animation film studio in his home-town Amsterdam.