Pixar needed to challenge Disney’s dominance in animation. Toy Story’s success was heavily associated with Disney which was frustrating to Jobs because Pixar created Toy Story. Jobs felt that Pixar was helping Disney roll out their movies and taking all of the credit for Toy Story. Pixar ran and created the movie, and Disney was the distributing channel. There was a need to go public with the Pixar considering that Toy Story was the top grossing film in 1995.
When Pixar was in trouble in 1988, Jobs needed to fire people which he did with a complete lack of empathy. The company was failing partly because their mass market animation hardware did not sell well. He gave these redundant employees a notice of two weeks, but this was retroactive from two weeks before the date of termination! Fast forward to 1995, Pixar was worth $39 per share on the first day of the IPO, Steve Jobs made $1.2 billion dollars in the initial IPO stage (a huge portion of its value). With the success of the IPO, Pixar wanted to assert a co-branding relationship with Disney, rather then being just a studio. Steve Jobs fought to make sure Pixar was every bit as valuable as Disney which later resulted in a Disney take over at a huge valuation.
Art Reflects Reality
Jobs bought Pixar from Lucas films and became a majority stakeholder in 1986. Pixar was technology meeting art which was perfect for Jobs who wanted to live on the intersection of the humanities and technology. He looked into the finance, and strategy in the late 80s to familiarize himself more with the bean counting elements of business. Jobs spewed out all kinds of crazy and good ideas at Pixar meetings. He even tried to sell hardware, and software design via a digital animation product called Renderman but this did not sell well. In the early 1990s, John Lasseter came up with Toy Story. Originally, Woody was a nasty character (who acted like Steve Jobs) but finally they decided to change the story so that Woody was no longer a mean character, and the film was very successful after much difficulty with Disney. A Bug’s Life tells the story of an Ant with all kinds of crazy and good ideas, but he gets in trouble with the colony and he is then expelled from the colony. He goes out to find a solution to the colony’s grasshopper problem, and ends up saving the colony. It basically follows the same life pattern as Steve Jobs who was fired from Apple, only to triumphantly return.