Today, when you think Pixar, you also think Disney. But it didn't start out that way. When Steve Jobs was fired from his own company at Apple for a short time, he purchased a part of the computer graphics division from Lucasfilm for a cool $5 milly. He poured another $5 million into the company to grow it. Pixar was born...
Cut to John Lassiter. He started at the Cal Institute of the Arts newly formed character animation program (Tim Burton was also in his class--can’t even imagine what their custom pong tables looked like). After college, Lassiter got his dream job working in Disney’s animation studio. He worked his butt off and pitched an idea for a 3-D animated movie for Disney. They brushed it off. He stepped on toes trying to push for it after getting turned down, and they fired him.
Then Pixar hired him. For years, they made hardware, short films, and commercials just to keep the lights on, but eventually it was time for a bigger project. They convinced Disney to give them a shot. Disney said yes, and they wrote a script for Disney with The Mouse's input. But the script was awful. So the Pixar team re-wrote the script as they had originally imagined it. It was a hit. The movie was released, and Pixar got their first big break with Toy Story.
Flash forward a few years. The 5-movie deal between Disney and Pixar was about to expire. So in Bob Iger’s first week as CEO of Disney, he called up Steve Jobs and proposed a trade: Disney would give Apple stacks of Benjamins, and--in exchange--Jobs would give Mickey Mouse the animation studio, Pixar.
Steve invited Bob over for a meeting, and they did what all CEOs do when making deals. They made a list of “pros” and “cons”. On the whiteboards lining the room, Iger wrote about 15 pros and Jobs wrote about 300 cons. Still, Jobs promised they’d find a way to make it work.
And they did. In 2006, Disney bought Pixar from Apple for $7.4 billy.
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