His Other Gig: How Steve Jobs Turned Pixar Into A Billion Dollar Empire

steve jobs as pixar ceo

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While pretty much anyone you ask identifies Steve Jobs with his amazing work at Apple, that’s not the only company he’s responsible for turning into a major success.After Jobs was ousted from Apple in 1985, he went on to buy Pixar from LucasFilm.

About a decade later, Pixar produced the first feature-length computer animated film, Toy Story, in a distribution deal with Disney.

From there, Pixar exploded and made Steve Jobs a very wealthy man. But it wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

Here’s how Jobs brought Pixar from a niche spinoff company to one of the most valuable movie studios on the planet.

1985: Steve Jobs ousted from Apple

Steve Jobs was forced out of Apple following poor Mac sales after an internal battle with John Sculley. Jobs went on to found NeXT Computer, but he also had his eye on another company...

1986: Steve Jobs buys Pixar

Steve Jobs paid LucasFilm $5 million for Pixar, which was called Graphics Group at the time. He invested another $5 million into the company.

1990: Jobs sells off Pixar's hardware division

From its earliest days, Pixar was also a hardware company. Its flagship product was the Pixar Image Computer, a $135,000 machine targeted at the medical and graphics industry. Even though Disney bought a bunch of them, the computer didn't sell well.

Finally, Steve Jobs decided to sell off Pixar's hardware division to Viacom systems fo $2 million.

1994: Pixar is bleeding cash and Jobs considers selling to one of his biggest rivals

It took a long time for technology to catch up and become cheap enough to fulfil Pixar's vision as a graphics production company.

Steve Jobs invested a lot of his own money into Pixar to keep the company afloat. (He would never say how much.)

According to this Fortune article from 1995, Jobs even considered selling Pixar to Microsoft. But then Pixar had its big, lucky break...

1995: Disney agrees to distribute Toy Story and Pixar becomes an instant cash cow

Toy Story, the first feature-length computer animated film, premiered during the 1995 Holiday season. Thanks to a distribution deal with Disney, Toy Story went on to make $360 million worldwide.

1995: Pixar goes public

Shortly after Toy Story's release, Pixar went public. The stock price was $22 per share.

2004: Relations between Pixar and Disney break down

Under the original Pixar-Disney agreement, the two companies split revenues earned from the movies. Pixar handled the production and Disney handled the distribution, marketing, etc.

But the two companies couldn't reach a new agreement by 2004, according to WIRED, and Steve Jobs said Pixar would go on the hunt for a new partner.

Jobs even sent some feelers out to Fox and Warner Bros.

2005: CEO Michael Eisner leaves the Disney and talks resume with Pixar

Disney's CEO Michael Eisner had difficulty reaching an agreement with Steve Jobs. By the time Eisner left Disney in 2005, Jobs was ready to resume negotiations.

One of Jobs' demands was to switch Pixar's film release schedule to the summer from the winter. That would allow Pixar movies to make more money in theatres during the summer and on DVDs during the Holidays.

2006: Disney buys Pixar for $7.6 billion, making Steve Jobs very, very rich

After years of making successful movies for Disney, Pixar was finally acquired by the media giant for a whopping $7.4 billion.

Steve Jobs became the largest Disney shareholder, holding about 7% of the company's shares.

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