Disney CEO Bob Iger believes he may have merged with Apple if the late Steve Jobs were still around.
Iger says as much in his upcoming autobiography, “The Ride of A Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company,” which comes out September 23. In an excerpt from the book, published in Vanity Fair, Iger said that a merger between the entertainment giant and the world’s most valuable company was a possibility due to his close ties with Jobs and Disney’s good relationship with Apple.
Iger writes of his close relationship with Jobs, spurred by Disney’s decision to acquire Pixar — Jobs’ other company — for $7.4 billion USD in 2006. That deal put Jobs on the Disney board. Iger joined Apple’s board in 2011 and remained until last week when Apple’s foray into streaming video prompted Iger to resign.
“That Steve and I were standing on that stage together at all was something of a miracle; before I became CEO, Disney’s relationship with Pixar — and Steve —was in tatters,” he wrote, explaining that Jobs’ relationship with then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner was starting to break down.
In 2004, before Iger was at the helm of Disney, he writes that “Steve made a very public, in-your-face announcement that he would never deal with Disney again.”
According to Iger, the purchase of Pixar turned Disney Animation’s fortunes around. But he had to convince Jobs on the merits of the acquisition, including through a list of pros and cons on a whiteboard in an Apple board room in Cupertino. Jobs was initially afraid it would destroy Pixar’s culture and that the “distraction will kill Pixar’s creativity.”
“Disney will be saved by Pixar and we’ll all live happily ever after,” Iger said he told Jobs at the time.
The Disney chief reflected on his personal and professional relationship with the tech visionary.
“I believe that if Steve were still alive, we would have combined our companies, or at least discussed the possibility very seriously,” Iger writes. “With every success the company has had since Steve’s death, there’s always a moment in the midst of my excitement when I think, I wish Steve could be here for this.”