With Steve Jobs now re-elected to the Disney board of directors, we were reminded of the very public spat between Jobs and former Disney CEO Michael Eisner.
Back in 2005, a year before Pixar would become a subsidiary of Disney, Eisner lambasted the characters in Pixar films as being “pretty pathetic” measured against those created for a Disney film Rapunzel Unbraided that would subsequently be re-named Tangled and released in 2010.
Upon being made aware of Eisner’s comments during a Pixar earnings conference call, Jobs fired back and took a few shots at Disney’s animated efforts and a more pointed jab at Eisner himself.
“Our films don’t stack up to Atlantis, The Emperor’s New Groove or Treasure Planet,” Jobs sarcastically quipped. Needless to say, each of those films were box office disappointments. Jobs later called Eisner a “loose cannon.”
The tension between Eisner and Jobs goes back to a deal between the two companies where Disney agreed to distribute Pixar’s animated films and handle all marketing efforts. When the original contract expired, Jobs and Eisner butted heads over new contract terms Pixar wanted inked into a new agreement. Eisner has been an outspoken critic of Jobs ever since.
In 2007 during the famous Hollywood writers strike, Eisner famously blamed Steve Jobs for the lack of money writers were earning. “[Hollywood studios] make deals with Steve Jobs, who takes them to the cleaners. They make all these kinds of things, and who’s making money? Apple! They should get a piece of Apple. If I was a union, I’d be striking up wherever he is.”
Disney of course purchased Pixar for $7.4 billion in stock in January of 2006, making Jobs the largest individual Disney stockholder.