Jobs readies for his close-up
When Jobs left Apple, he sold his shares of the company and became an instant millionaire. In 1986, he bought the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm for $10 million and called it Pixar. Working with a talented stable of artists and engineers, he created a new era in animation. Pixar started with Luxo Jr., a charming short that created compelling characters out of computer-animated desk lamps.
To Jobs, Pixar represented something like the fusion of cutting-edge technology and the human soul -- an effort to create an entirely new, and yet still entirely satisfying, storytelling aesthetic using the new tools that technology had made available. The results: A string of hit films such as Toy Story, Monsters, Inc. and Finding Nemo.
These was possible only because Jobs kept the company financially afloat for years as it honed its skills and improved its tools -- solely because he believed Pixar could change the world of entertainment. The experience revolutionized his view of business.
"When these films take four years to make and they last for 60 or 100 years, you start to develop a longer focal length point of view than just the next six months," Jobs said on the Charlie Rose show in 1996. In 1995, the company went public in the biggest IPO of the year, beating out Netscape and making Jobs a billionaire. Ten years later, Jobs sold Pixar to Walt Disney (DIS) for $7.4 billion in stock, making him Disney's biggest shareholder and effectively killing off Disney's own storied hand-drawn animation shop.