BusinessWeek has a in-depth piece up detailing the behind the scenes happenings that led to Disney purchasing Lucasfilm. The story is a must-read for any Star Wars fans out there, but there is an interesting nugget about Steve Jobs that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone familiar with his antics.
While discussing Disney’s purchase of the Steve Jobs led Pixar, the article notes:
Iger accelerated that process by making acquisitions. The first was the $7.4 billion purchase of Pixar Animation Studios in 2006. Iger personally negotiated the deal with Steve Jobs, who was then Pixar’s CEO. As part of the deal, Iger kept the creative team, led by John Lasseter, in place and allowed them to continue to operate with a minimum of interference in their headquarters near San Francisco. “Steve and I spent more time negotiating the social issues than we did the economic issues,” Iger says. “He thought maintaining the culture of Pixar was a major ingredient of their creative success. He was right.”
The transaction gave Disney a new source of hit movies. Jobs also became a Disney board member and its largest shareholder. Periodically he would call Iger to say, “Hey, Bob, I saw the movie you just released last night, and it sucked,” Iger recalls. Nevertheless, the Disney CEO says that having Jobs as a friend and adviser was “additive rather than the other way around.”
Jobs’ efforts to maintain the creative integrity of Pixar under the Disney umbrella was well-documented in his biography. Indeed, maintaining a healthy corporate culture that fostered creativity was a common thread that ran through both Pixar and Apple. You might remember that Jobs, in his biography, noted that famed Apple designer Jony Ive was given free reign at Apple.
With Jobs, creativity and design always reigned supreme.