Disney and Pixar

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Date: Thursday, January 26th, 2006, 08:17
Category: Opinion

Disney absorbs Pixar and Steve Jobs moves to the Disney board. This could not have happened with Eisner. The clash between Eisner and Jobs was a problem that went beyond just personality. Eisner did not appear to have a strategic vision and did not do well for Disney during his tenure. According to Jobs, Bob Iger has one. If he does, this could be a good marriage. Disney benefits by having one of its strongest assets in-house with a guaranteed future relationship. Animation is fundamentally important to Disney. God help Iger if he does not have vision and one that is compatible with Steve’s. Look at what the Next acquisition did for Apple. Great things, but Gil Amelio did not survive the deal. He had no vision and he got Steved.
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Disney absorbs Pixar and Steve Jobs moves to the Disney board. This could not have happened with Eisner. The clash between Eisner and Jobs was a problem that went beyond just personality. Eisner did not appear to have a strategic vision and did not do well for Disney during his tenure. According to Jobs, Bob Iger has one. If he does, this could be a good marriage. Disney benefits by having one of its strongest assets in-house with a guaranteed future relationship. Animation is fundamentally important to Disney. God help Iger if he does not have vision and one that is compatible with Steve’s. Look at what the Next acquisition did for Apple. Great things, but Gil Amelio did not survive the deal. He had no vision and he got Steved.
Look at Jobs and Lassiter. Jobs has immense respect for Lassiter’s talent and Pixar has flourished. Just keep in mind that Jobs was in charge. He can be a very good boss or a very bad one. His track record as a partner is a bit sketchy. I believe the fundamental function of Jobs on the Disney board of directors should be to protect Pixar. Clearly, Pixar will be Jobs domain, but any void or floundering outside of Pixar at Disney and things could get ugly.
Now look at H. Ross Perot. He was a financial backer of Jobs at Next by the way. He also sold his company, EDS, to GM and sat on the board of GM as its largest individual shareholder and just railed against Roger Smith until Roger left GM. This could have happened with Jobs on the board at Disney and Eisner in charge. This type of relationship could spell disaster for Disney. Jobs needs to separate his role at Apple from his role on the Disney board. Anything dealing with Apple needs to stay outside and anything dealing with Pixar needs to stay inside Disney. This will be tough and Pixar, like any acquired company is at risk in the long run since it will lose its most fundamental independence, ownership. Talent abounds at Pixar, but talent is tough to cultivate and easily stifled.
I stand corrected. Eisner did do a lot early on and I would have to agree that it was more a case of hanging on too long. The deal with Pixar, while tremendous for Disney, left them terribly vulnerable at the end of the agreement. Animation is what makes Disney Disney and not whacky features like the Love Bug. What are the chances that Walt himself will eventually return to head Disney much like the second coming of Jobs at Apple? Zero, since the freezing of Mr. Disney is just one more urban myth.

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