Although Steve Jobs is best known for his role as the CEO of Apple, he also played a huge role in turning film company Pixar into a multi-billion-dollar success.
After Jobs was ousted from Apple in 1985, he bought Pixar (at the time called Graphics Group) from Lucasfilm for $US5 million. He became the company’s largest shareholder and CEO until Disney bought it for $US7.4 billion in 2006.
His years at Pixar provided Jobs’ with a series of “uncomplicated highs,” according to Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli in their new book “Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart Into a Visionary Leader.”
Because Jobs reclaimed Apple’s CEO spot in 1997, he balanced his work at Pixar with running Apple for most of that period. He always tried to make it to Pixar’s office at least once a week, usually on Fridays. He wasn’t a filmmaker, but Pixar’s creative team found his ability to articulate criticisms about different movies as they were developed was hugely valuable.
Jobs had an explosive temper and a tendency towards very harsh criticisms, but was more relaxed at Pixar than he was at Apple, sources told Schlender and Tetzeli, a fact that some smart executives learned to take advantage of:
Andy Dreyfus, a former Apple designer who when to work for CKS Parnters in San Francisco, says that whenever he and his boss Tom Suiter wanted to present something to Steve, they tried to meet him at Pixar. “We were always happy when we had a Friday meeting with Steve,” Dreyfus recalls, “Because Friday was the day he was at Pixar, and he was always in a good mood there.”
Since his role at Pixar was less hands-on than his role at Apple, it was simpler for Jobs to relish his time at Pixar and celebrate the company’s successes. He would get incredibly excited to pre-screen new movies and took great pride in attending the Oscars whenever the company earned awards. Pixar exec John Lasseter describes Jobs as Pixar’s “biggest fan.”
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