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Steve Jobs to Sell Pixar and Join Disney Board? 274

mikeisme77 writes "According to the Washington Post, Pixar Studios is in discussions with Disney for a possible merger/buy out. Disney would own Pixar in exchange for $6.7 billion worth of stock in the Walt Disney Corp. Speculation has also arisen that such a deal may lead to Steve Jobs earning a position on Disney's board of directors. He would likely become Disney's largest individual share holder. Further speculation sees Jobs using his new found power to leverage Disney into releasing more content to the iTunes media service." Details also available from the Time Magazine site. We touched on this issue near the end of last year as well.
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Steve Jobs to Sell Pixar and Join Disney Board?

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  • Difficult individualists like Jobs are never successful taking a number 2 position at a company like Disney. Consider for example Turner at Time Warner.

    Consider the man Eisner hired, who didn't last long. I forget his name.
  • by nuckin futs ( 574289 ) on Friday January 20, 2006 @04:31PM (#14521691)
    Steve Jobs is known to be a control freak. He controls Apple and Pixar. Unless he's able to control Disney if and when they merge, I don't think he'll be selling.
  • The quality of Disneys productions could only go up.

    Or Pixar could go way down. I hope you're right, and that the Pixar folks will run wild into Disney - but it's a hell of a beast to tame. I'd actually fear that Disney would feel a need to "ensure Pixar's ongoing creative success" and then screw it up.

    Just like when Dinsney's second golden age of animation was born (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King) - it became a valuble commodity, and the suits felt the need to 'protect' it. The next think you know, the creative guys are jumping ship, and you're left with drek like "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

  • by Adult film producer ( 866485 ) <van@i2pmail.org> on Friday January 20, 2006 @04:37PM (#14521737)
    What makes all these stories about Steve Jobs worthy of being on the front page of a webpage for geeks/nerds? "News for nerds, Stuff that matters," is the slogan right? Whether or not steve jobs sells his pixar stock or eats sushi for breakfast is irrelevant to any discussion here.
  • by nagora ( 177841 ) on Friday January 20, 2006 @04:37PM (#14521740)
    Disney can buy Pixar and have the rights to their back-catalogue to rape in the straight-to-video market alongside "Disney Buggers Winnie the Pooh Yet Again" and the rest of their tat but the last 15 years has shown that Disney can't recruit talent capable of making a good movie.

    So, if Disney buys Pixar and Lassiter etc. walk out and start their own company Disney ends up with nothing more than a brand which they'll screw up as badly as they have their own.


  • by jupiter_ganymede ( 741242 ) on Friday January 20, 2006 @04:38PM (#14521744)
    Pixar succeeds because they have the freedom to do things differently. I could see Pixar loosing that freedom and falling into the same trap Disney's animation branch did. Unless they could remain somewhat autonomous I can't see them continuing to innovate under Disney's control.
  • by randomErr ( 172078 ) <ervin@kosch.gmail@com> on Friday January 20, 2006 @04:46PM (#14521818) Journal
    I can see this happening. Jobs has a much better name in both the consumer and business world. Jobs has several companies that have been producing original products(iPod, Airport, The Incredibles) and making money(Apple and Pixar of course) for years.

    Can Eisner say that (Home on the Range, Beauty and the Beast Princess Collect 2 Special Edition, Disney Land)?
  • by WebGangsta ( 717475 ) on Friday January 20, 2006 @04:58PM (#14521921)
    Pixar succeeds because they have the freedom to do things differently

    The LATimes article released this morning is the only one to mention that John Lassiter - major Pixar honcho, creative driving force, etc -- would head up the entire Disney animation division as part of the deal.

    My guess is that Disney knows that Lassiter is the heart and soul of Pixar (as does Jobs), and they want to ensure that Pixar remains as devoted to creating quality work as possible along with reinvigorating the Disney animation arm as well with a new regime that Eisner so sadly dismantled over the years. As long as Pixar remains independent with Lassiter majorly involved in the merger-end-result, then all will be good in the end.

  • by IAmTheDave ( 746256 ) <basenamedave-sdNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:16PM (#14522091) Homepage Journal
    and you're left with drek like "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

    Quite a legitimate fear. One of the reasons that Pixar does so well is the culture of the shop, developed by Jobs and run by Jobs. Take his somewhat psychotic nature out of the mix and allow Pixar to become just another Disney department overseen by the Disney corporate machine, and the brilliance that launced Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles may be lost forever.

  • by 'nother poster ( 700681 ) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:33PM (#14522238)
    But the issue is that copyrights were never meant to be used that way. They were meant to be a mechanism that would allow authors and artists a mechanism to attempt to recoup the costs of creation, and a profit from their creative endevours while causing them to have to continue to be creative. That means that the limited nature of the copyright meant that if the cration was a smashing success, you would still need to create new content in seven or fourteen years if you wanted to get paid more. It was a mechanist to foster CREATION of new materials, not protection of old.
  • Hi Chris -

    While I agree with you, that Steve has an incredible ability to come out on top (I was there at ground zero when Apple bought NeXT), and it is likely that a post-acquisition Jobs would have tremendous influence over Disney, there are some errors in your analysis.

    1. Disney is currently worth just show of $50 billion (look at market capitalization at http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=DIS>).

    2. Jobs only controls approximately half of Pixar, with Pixar valued at just show of 7 billion http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=PIXR> as you said.

    3. The deal would likely be a stock swap, not a cash deal, for various tax reasons. The new entity would likely be valued at between $55 and $60 billion, with Jobs controlling a $3 billion slice, or as you said 5%, of Disney.

    4. While owning 5% of Disney is nothing to sneeze at, realize that Roy Disney controlled close to 17 million shares of Disney (close to 1%) as well as popular backing and wasn't able to get what he wanted.

    Disney is a much different company from Apple in early 1997. It has plenty of money in the bank (Apple had closer to $2 billion in cash vs. the $7 billion you describe), has strong free cash flow (wheras things were quite shakey at Apple), and is on a rebound vs. heading downward. Remember it was only at MacWorld in the summer of 1997, that things started to turnaround with the famous investment of Microsoft in Apple and the promise to keep Office on the Mac for 5 years.

    For Apple, Jobs was - rightfully - viewed as a savior, the only one who could turn this company around. At Disney, Jobs will be just another person at the boardroom table. Will he be a first among equals? Definitely! Will he be able to call all of the shots? No.

    And in that fact, that he won't be able to call all the shots, is the truth that Jobs would not likely stay long on the board. Jobs is one who has to control things completely. If he can't, then he will walk away.

    I firmly believe that if Pixar is sold to Disney, that Steve will not be long with Disney. Will he leave his mark on the company? Definitely. His people - like John Lasseter - will be in senior positions prior to his leaving. But he won't be around for long.

    And that is a shame. Disney - based on our family's latest experience at Disneyland - really could use someone with Steve's drive for quality and attention to detail to bring back the fabled "Disney experience".


  • Jobs + Roy Disney (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EccentricAnomaly ( 451326 ) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:36PM (#14522255) Homepage
    Steve jobs is great friends with Roy Disney, Jr. who has been a dissident against the Disney board for years (even suing them). I wonder if his stakes plus Jobs post-merge stake would be enough for them to take over... Or if their combined stake would be enough to help Apple buy Disney :) One thing's for sure, if jobs gets control over Disney, Disneyland is going to be insanely great. Can you imagine what the RDF would do? You'll shit your pants. ...but seriously, Jobs in control of Disney would put Apple in a great place for the upcoming iPod vs. Sony battle.
  • by EXTomar ( 78739 ) on Friday January 20, 2006 @05:56PM (#14522437)
    Shameless stolen from myself from last year's story:

    Yes if Disney bought Pixar they would receive a company full of talented, driven artists but that is only half of the reason why Pixar movies do so well. The other half is that management and producers protects the production. The classic story about Toy Story is that Disney fronted the money and was unhappy about the "juvenile" nature of the story and wanted to make it "modern", edgy, or whatever kids call being "cool" these day, they proceeded to hack it up. The result was crappy, no one liked it, everyone was unhappy, and Disney was moments from pulling the plug. It wasn't until Lasseter stepped in and said 'enough is enough' and fixed it by going back to their way that the project showed promise. The rest is history. Award winning history no less.

    So unless Disney takes a hands off approach if they buy up Pixar (I still doubt this would happen...would Job's ego allow it?) it will go the way of their ill fated Disney Orlando Animation Studio (which made Lilo). It isn't that Pixar has talented people (go figure...Disney has them too). It is the fact that the rank and file management all the way up to Lasseter understands they need to "protect the baby". Reguardless of whether or the story is stellar, interferrence will definately rob it any chances it had of being so.

    Nothing has changed from when I originally wrote that. If Disney takes over Pixar and run its as ruthless as they have their other buisness units they'll proceed to gut it. In fact it makes more sense for Job to run Disney than to have Diseny run Pixar.
  • by Reverend528 ( 585549 ) on Friday January 20, 2006 @06:13PM (#14522584) Homepage
    No, congress is easily bought. That's why disney has perpetual copyright.
  • Re:stock (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20, 2006 @07:12PM (#14523037)
    Amm... Now is the time to buy options. If it's one thing sudden mergers cause is volatility. Buying a call/put spread will increase your chances of... err... well... making money no matter which way the sudden stock price spike will go. You can `easily' double (or quadruple) money that way (then again, you may end up losing all the money if... the stock just stays flat---but how likely is that???) I'd imagine during the merger week/month, one of the corps will see at least a 5% price spike... but that's just me.

    (wow, did I just give out a major investment ``secret''?)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, 2006 @02:25AM (#14524920)
    Don't be a prude. "Vulgarity" does nothing whatsoever to reduce the truth of a statement. Less polite, maybe, but that's something else. And his post wasn't vulgar. Go pop a MYOB pill and go back to bed.

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin