The Apple and Pixar story with Steve Jobs in the lead

To talk about Pixar today is to talk about one of the great film production companies, owned by Disney. However, it was not always Mickey Mouse’s company that owned it, but it has historically had more to do with Apple. To be more specific, with Steve Jobs, one of the illustrious founders and historic CEO of the apple company. Watch for the incredible story Jobs came across on the road with Pixar.

It all began with Apple’s firing of Jobs

There is no harm that comes from good, says a well-known saying, and the truth is that that must have been very much what Steve Jobs thought long after he was fired from the company he founded with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne in 1976. That company was Apple, and the historic genius was fired in the late 1980s, which eventually led him to turn to other projects.

The Apple and Pixar story with Steve Jobs in the lead
The Apple and Pixar story with Steve Jobs in the lead

In 1986, with Steve already out of the Bitten Apple company, fate wanted to join his path with Pixar’s, even though it didn’t exist as such at the time. What did exist was a production company called Lucasfilm . No more and no less than the mythical seal of George Lucas .

That same year “Howard the Duck” was released, a film produced by Lucasfilm and based on the comic book of an anthropomorphic duck. The box office figures smelled of failure after having managed to raise $37.9 million, only one million more than what had been invested in its production.

That fiasco was coupled with the fall of Star Wars licenses after the release of “Return of the Jedi”. Lucas was not going through his personal best either, as he had recently been divorced. But then Jobs appeared with an impressive offer of 5 million dollars in exchange for Graphics Group . This was a division of Lucasfilm’s computer division. The sale was finally closed and Graphics Group became a small independent company with a capital of another 5 million dollars. The first seed had been planted and with it Pixar was born.

Pixar was born as a computer company

Steve Jobs had taken over the new company, but wanting to disassociate the past from it. Jobs wanted to turn it into a computer firm. The company’s flagship product was the Pixar Image Computer , a computer that had a huge graphics memory for the time. However, this computer failed miserably in the market and in 1990 it was decided to terminate the company’s hardware development activities.

On the other hand, NeXT , the other company founded by Steve Jobs after his dismissal from Apple, was not getting off the ground and was suffering serious financial problems. These problems were added to the doubts Jobs had with Pixar, despite having signed a small collaboration contract with Disney. Such were the doubts that he even considered selling the company to Microsoft. Fortunately or unfortunately, this did not happen.

Lawrence Levy, key to Pixar’s success

Jobs, in one of his well-known sudden starts, decided to go in search of a person to help him refloat Pixar. Something similar to what he’d done years ago at Apple when he went looking for then-Pepsi president John Sculley. This time he decided to go in search of Lawrence Levy, CFO of Electronics for Imaging. When he received the call, he thought they wanted to hire him to work at NeXT. He had barely heard of Pixar but Jobs, who was a great trickster, managed to make him believe in the project and get him to join the team.

The move went well for the former Apple CEO, as the chemistry they both processed together was very good . The moment of Levy’s arrival also coincided with the production of “Toy Story” ,which would be the first animation film in history produced entirely with a computer.

The IPO and the triumph of Toy Story

With the help of a good financial team, led by Levy, Pixar went public without making much noise . It wasn’t until the release of “Toy Story” that the company really took off. The well-known toy movie was released on November 22, 1995, and in its first weekend it grossed a whopping 30 million dollars , surpassing even the most optimistic forecasts of the experts.
The success of the film continued to grow and make the name of Pixar established in the market as one of the most important labels in the world of animation . And so it has continued to this day with other great successes such as “Monsters S.A”, “Cars” and many others in which the sequels to “Toy Story” also stand out.

The problematic Pixar-Disney relationship from Pixar to Disney

When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he was still running Pixar, even though the company was already shooting on its own. Although his involvement was no longer as great, he never ceased to be present in the company’s most important decisions. Decisions like the one that had to be taken in 2003 and 2004, years in which Pixar lived confrontations with Disney.

At that time, Pixar was not entirely owned by Disney, but they were linked by a series of contracts. The negotiations for the extension of these documents did not come to a successful conclusion, so there was a rupture in the relations of both companies.

The arrival of Bob Iger as Disney’s new CEO served to calm the waters. The good relations between both companies returned and with this, in January 2006, was able to definitively close the sale of Pixar to Disney. This ended up being a good outcome that allowed Pixar to continue being a production company with its own name, but also within one of the largest film companies in the world.

Winking from Apple to Disney today

It is curious that although they no longer have any kind of relationship, Apple and Pixar seem to remain linked in some way. In fact, you only have to watch some of the Disney’s animated films to see how some of the company’s products slip through. To give an example, in Toy Story films it is common to see MacBook in which the apple logo is clearly visible.

But the winks are not one-way, Apple is throwing them too. The Apple Watch is a good example of this with the spheres that were added a few years ago and that have the characters from “Toy Story” as their protagonists. This is probably due to the good relationship they have with Disney as well, of which they also have spheres like Mickey and Minnie’s.

In short, we have told a very interesting story that you probably didn’t know about. It’s funny how sometimes everything is more related than we think. We wonder what would have become of Pixar if Steve Jobs hadn’t crossed over. Or what would have become of Apple if Jobs hadn’t finally returned for the success of Pixar. In any case, each in their own field, have been and remain great companies to this day.

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