Disney CEO Bob Iger Steve Jobs

A Fortune interview with Disney CEO Bob Iger, featured on the magazine’s cover (seen below) today, makes much of the importance of Iger’s relationship with Steve Jobs.

Fortune’s Michal Lev-Ram writes: “If there is one particular relationship that has most shaped [Bob Iger’s] thinking, it’s the six-year friendship he had with another CEO: the late Steve Jobs […]

Ed Catumull, Disney’s animation president, says of the Iger/Jobs relationship: “Steve recognized that in Bob he actually had a partner. In the subsequent years they thought of each other as true partners. That’s what he wanted, and that’s not what he had previously.”

The mutual respect the pair felt for each other was reflected in the fact that Jobs, before his death, asked that Iger be invited to take his place on the Apple board … 

Iger himself describes how the two of them used to bounce ideas off one another:

“Occasionally we would stand in front of a whiteboard and talk about ideas. We’d just muse on business. When you think about it, media’s the intersection of content and technology—it’s all about storytelling, like photography and the camera. So we’d talk about that a lot, the intersection between the story and the gadget.”

While the relationship between Jobs and Disney started out as a good one when the film studio partnered with Pixar on a series of hit animations, it hit a bumpy patch when Disney did not renew the partnership and created a sequel to Toy Story without Pixar’s involvement.

When Iger was made CEO of Disney in 2005, he was determined to restore the relationship, calling Jobs even before his appointment was made public.

“I told him I was well aware of how strained the relationship had become,” says Iger. “I said, ‘I know you think it’s going to be business as usual, but I’d like to prove to you that it’s not.’ ”

That proof soon followed: one of Iger’s first actions as CEO was to fly up to Cupertino to agree on a deal to put Disney content onto what was then the fledgling platform, iTunes.

It was also Iger who stood alongside Jobs at the launch of the video iPod to announce that ABC shows would be available on iTunes, giving the new device immediate access to popular content.


The relationship between Apple and Disney remains as strong today, writes Lev-Ram, with Disney a launch partner for Apple Pay (Walt Disney World following the stores a few days ago) and a Mickey Mouse-branded Apple Watch face in the works.

Apple’s current CEO, Tim Cook, says of Iger: “He has the courage to lose sight of the shore. He understands the tradition of Disney but isn’t wedded to it.”

Pixar president Ed Catmull also praised the design of Apple’s spaceship campus, stating that the design was intended to maximize information sharing and brainstorming across teams.

Speaking of spaceships, Iger seems to know a bit about them posing with the new Disney-owned Star Wars Millennium Falcon, below.


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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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