Business, Arts & Entertainment

Taking Giant Swings: Pixar Acquisition Case Study

Bob Iger

Lesson time 24:55 min

Bob breaks down the acquisition of Pixar, including his strategy to convince Steve Jobs—the head of Pixar—and the Disney board. He explains how he overcame the odds with the acquisition and why it was essential to Disney’s future success.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: The Importance of Animation to The Walt Disney Company • Repairing the Relationship Between Steve Jobs and Disney • Getting Steve Jobs on Board • Successfully Merging Cultures • The Payoff


- Great. - Woody, the rocket! - The match! Yes! Thank you, Sid. [CAR APPROACHES] No, no, no, no. No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. No. - Woody, what are you doing? - Hold still, Buzz. [WOODY LAUGHS] - You did it. Next stop Andy! - Wait a minute. I just lit a rocket. Rockets explode! [ROCKET BOOMS] [LIGHTHEARTED MUSIC] - I think as you look back on something, it seems like it's always the result of a grand plan that was plotted out as you embarked on whatever the endeavor happened to be. It's not always that way, in particular with Steve Jobs and ultimately our acquisition of Pixar. There were a number of steps that I took along the way that were each designed to make some progress in terms of strengthening the relationship or continuing the relationship between Pixar and Disney. But when I began that discussion, or when I embarked on that journey, I didn't necessarily have the end in mind that we ultimately ended up concluding or delivering. I didn't know that it would end up with us acquiring Pixar. When I became the CEO of Disney in 2005, Disney had been through about a decade of struggle when it came to Disney Animation. If you look at the history of the Walt Disney Company going all the way back to the '20s and '30s to the great year of Walt Disney, as animation went, so went the Walt Disney Company. In other words, in times that the company was making great animated films, the overall company soared. You could go back and look at "Snow White" and "Cinderella" and "Dumbo" and "Pinocchio" and "Sleeping Beauty," great movies that Walt made, and then you could dissolve to our move forward to the '80s and the '90s and Michael Eisner's era, the period of "Little Mermaid" and "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin" and, ultimately, "Lion King--" great films, great animated films from Disney Animation, and the company had achieved just phenomenal success. Because Disney had been struggling in animation for about a decade, I knew that my first priority becoming CEO was to turn Disney Animation around. I also knew that if I didn't do that, that my tenure as CEO was likely to be short lived. When I thought about how best to turn Disney Animation around, obviously all roads lead to people. I needed talented people, talented leadership in particular to take the reins at Disney Animation and redirect where we were creatively. And I immediately concluded that the best animators and the best animation leadership was at Pixar. - One of the things that I'm proudest of Pixar of is we have a story crisis on every movie, and production's rolling, and there's mouths to feed, and something's just not working, and we stop. We stop, and we fix the story. - Steve was the controlling shareholder of Pixar, and Pixar had been in a relationship with Disney for quite some time where there was co-funding of their pictures and co-ownership, and Disney marketed and distributed their films. ...

About the Instructor

In an era of disruption, Disney CEO Bob Iger led one of the world’s most beloved brands to unprecedented success with the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. Now, through case studies and lessons from 45 years in media, Bob teaches you how to evolve your business and career. Learn strategies for expanding a brand, leading with integrity, and making big moves—from risk management to the art of negotiation.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Bob Iger

Disney CEO Bob Iger teaches you the leadership skills and strategies he used to reimagine one of the world’s most beloved brands.

Explore the Class
Sign Up