Pixar-Disney Merger Casts An Uncertain Spell

by Meiera Stern Jan 26, 2006

Debate over how Steve Jobs looks in a Mickey Mouse hat can begin in earnest, after months of rumors about a possible merger between the Apple-held Pixar and Walt Disney.

It seems that both sides have a lot to gain and lose from the merger. On the plus side: Apple is getting a tidy 7.4 billion package for melding Nemo with Snow White. Steve Jobs sold the merger to stockholders thusly: “Disney and Pixar can now collaborate without the barriers that come from two different companies with two different sets of shareholders. Now, everyone can focus on what is most important, creating innovative stories, characters and films that delight millions of people around the world.”

Certainly the lack of corporate boundaries could be a boon for the future audiences of Pixar-Disney productions. Disney’s side of the bargain looks pretty good too. They are acquiring some serious digital-animation-polish to their previously lackluster digital portfolio. To date, all of Pixar’s movies have been blockbusters, and none of Disney’s recent animations such as Chicken Little have even gotten close.
“The question isn’t did Disney pay too much but how expensive would it have been for Disney if Pixar fell into someone else’s hands,” said Barry Ritholtz, chief investment officer with Ritholtz Capital Partners, a hedge fund that focuses on media and technology stocks.

All this seems so rosy. As rosy as the death-still cheeks of Sleeping Beauty? Or just plain rosy? Is there a darker side of this cartoon wedding?

Is the iPod destined to look like a cartoon of its once minimalist self? Is this that bad? See iPod Kitty. Does the merger of Apple/Pixar with Disney spell the end of Pixar’s small company edginess? Can Pixar hold onto and improve its magic formula, or are we in for more dumbed-down, lowest-common denominator amusement?

To mix cartoon metaphors, this writer fears that little Pixar has eaten the proverbial poison apple (not by merging once with the good-witch Apple) but by being swallowed by the mighty mother of all fantasia, the evil witch of corporate conformity, wearing a Disney mask.

So will Pixar’s and Apple’s metaphors and products be similarly confused in the future? And what will the larger implications be for Mac users who prize their Apples partly for their uniqueness in a sea of PCs? In other words, how can Apple and Pixar keep producing products with such clarity of purpose within the deadening environs of such a large company?


  • This article strikes me as factually deficient.  The only relation between Apple and Pixar is that Steve Jobs owns stock and is CEO of both.  The merger between Pixar and Disney initially has nothing to do with Apple.  I find the implication that there is a direct relationship mildly disturbing…

    awmyhr had this to say on Jan 26, 2006 Posts: 2
  • The CEO of Apple and Pixar was Steve Jobs. Now the CEO of Disney, Robert Iger, is the CEO of Pixar and Disney, relegating Jobs to a boardmember position. The implication that there is a direct relationship with Apple IS more than mildly disturbing, but it is not factually deficient. Jobs has sold part of his fifedom to Disney, and in the big fish sea of Corporate America, giving a shark a taste of blood is never a good idea. smile

    Meiera Stern had this to say on Jan 26, 2006 Posts: 12
  • Ms. Stern,

    I’m not sure if you really understand the business structure of the merger between Disney and Pixar. When Disney bought Pixar, they only bought Pixar. Steve Jobs and Pixar’s various stockholders owned Pixar, NOT Apple Computing. With the merger of Disney and Pixar, Disney only gains the full rights and ownership of Pixar, it’s staff and it’s Intellectual Property. Disney DOES NOT recieve in any way, shape or form the abillity to influence how Apple Computing produces and markets its hardware and software.

    Now that’s not to say that at some point in the future that Steve Jobs may negotiate to license some of Disney’s trademarks for use by Apple Computing or that Robert Iger, C.E.O. of Disney, may come to Apple with a way to co-market a product, but do not by any means confuse this with Disney gaining control of Apple Computing. Unless Disney decides to get into the hardware business and offer the Apple shareholders a buyout price for Apple Computing AND the Apple shareholders accept it, Disney will NEVER control Apple. Please get your facts together before writing another article like this.

    Frank 'viperteq' Young had this to say on Jan 26, 2006 Posts: 32
  • Of course Apple is still Apple and
    Disney is still Disney, and I do understand “the business structure of the merger.” I appologize if my prose was misleading. I find it disturbing that Pixar and Disney must become the same company for both to flourish, and my point in the article is that the merger signifies that such a move on the part of Steve Jobs could be good or bad for Apple in the future, as well as for Pixar. We shall see.

    Meiera Stern had this to say on Jan 26, 2006 Posts: 12
  • Whether or not Disney buying out Pixar will be a good move or not is the nature of mergers. You hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. However, whether the Disney-Pixar merger succeeds or not will no more effect Apple than Google stripping certain search results from its chinese based portal. The only thing that might happen is that Apple’s Board of Directors may start asking Steve to try to get Disney to do certain things in favor of Apple because Steve is the single largest stockholder, but bare in mind that Steve can always get outvoted by Disney’s board. Steve has no more control over any situations at Disney than he does at Apple.

    Frank 'viperteq' Young had this to say on Jan 26, 2006 Posts: 32
  • Oh c’mon guys, give her a break.
    The entire objective of this site is for the authors to create wildly out-there suggestions with usually controversial ideas. And obviously Meiera did that pretty well.

    ...even if it is raving madness… smile

    Luke Mildenhall-Ward had this to say on Jan 27, 2006 Posts: 299
  • Meira,
    Thanks for the article.  Your points are well founded after reviewing Jobs’ business history. Jobs’ decisions at any company, regardless of the badge he’s wearing, will be influenced by Disney’s CEO “suggesting” and “recommending” options whether they are official or unofficial.  Jobs’ history shows he can be convinced to reverse previously touted ideals if his personal checkbook is affected.

    clearglass had this to say on Jan 29, 2006 Posts: 1
  • Does it? Where?

    Benji had this to say on Jan 29, 2006 Posts: 927
  • The entire objective of this site is for the authors to create wildly out-there suggestions with usually controversial ideas.

    Speculation is fine, but this particular article is based on the faulty premise that Apple/Pixar merged with Disney:

    Does the merger of Apple/Pixar with Disney spell the end of Pixar’s small company edginess?

    That’s not really accurate, as others have already pointed out.  What this merger means for Pixar is a legitimate question, but suggesting that the merger was between Disney and Pixar/Apple isn’t a real question.  You might as well ask what everyone thought when Steve Jobs became the new CEO of Microsoft.  It didn’t happen, so how can we say what we thought about it?

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jan 29, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • Unbelievable!!!

    I have consistently found articles on Apple Matters to be little more than baseless and comical tripe (When I feel like a good old belly laugh, I come here), but this one is just downright embarrassing… Actually, I stopped reading at the end of the first paragraph simply because it makes a statement that is simply and totally untrue in every sense of the word.

    Let’s get the facts strait… Pixar was NEVER in way way whatsoever “Apple-held.”

    Two thoughts:

    1) Get a dictionary and study every permutation and consequence of the word “Fact.”

    2) Get an editor who knows the importance of fact checking.

    Big E had this to say on Feb 05, 2006 Posts: 7
  • Mr. Pruss,

    Apple-held was perhaps too much hyperbole, but speaking of editors, you should find one that knows the importance of spell check. Upon going to your site, the first thing I saw was that you misspelled recognized, and there are other examples. So check yourself before you babble about fact checking with such misplaced lather.


    Meiera Stern had this to say on Feb 06, 2006 Posts: 12
  • Recognise can be spelled with an s in UK English. Douglas Adams was British. Or is there another example?
    I think his point is it wasn’t hyperbole at all, it was just wrong. I don’t take such an extreme POV as Eric Pruss, but statements like “Apple is getting a tidy 7.4 billion package for melding Nemo with Snow White” and talking about ” the merger of Apple/Pixar with Disney” don’t endear the site to readers who have a basic understanding of the topic.

    Benji had this to say on Feb 08, 2006 Posts: 927
  • Ok, point taken. I appreciate the feedback from all of you about the facts of the Pixar-Disney merger, and will be more careful in the future not to sink into fantasy, but it sure is fun. wink How about Disney and Apple tie the knot? Hows that for a headline. However, this is not an Apple tabloid, and I’ll watch my yellow-press tendencies. Thanks again to each of you for setting me straight!

    Meiera Stern had this to say on Feb 08, 2006 Posts: 12
  • Thank you Ben. I do, in fact, tend to use predominantly UK spellings in my writing, and likewise, I do in fact use a spell-checker (built into Mac OS X, set to check “British English” first).

    As for my POV towards Apple Matters as a whole, I will be fair and admit that I have the same strong feelings about the irresponsibility regarding fantasy, hyperbole and lacklustre fact-checking by the rest of the media as a whole.

    Focusing specifically on Apple Matters and therefore the pro-Mac community, I have noticed how quick pro-Mac members of the media are to point out when neutral or antithetic media counterparts make factual errors that result in the Mac, iPod, Apple, Steve Jobs, etc. looking bad, or at least not as good. However the fact is, the pro-Mac media community is equally as guilty of this same transgression. I would wager that both protagonists generally do so with full knowledge, with the intention of deception in order to spread their preferred form of propaganda.

    While M. Stern may have been merely fantasising, s/he did not make this outright clear from the beginning of their article, and this therefore triggered my media jaded response.

    Finally, perhaps I was too harsh in my wording, but I still stand by my OPINION (and it is only that… an opinion), that Apple Matters as a whole, tends to delve far too often into fantasy and hyperbolic thinking than serious and logical fact finding.

    As a result, I find Apple Matters to be more trite entertainment than serious commentary. Perhaps this is acceptable to the editors, and if so, well, your doing well. If, on the other hand, serious and reasoned dissemination of the world of Apple Computer is the goal, it is my opinion that Apple Matters, like so many of the pro-Apple media counterparts has failed..

    Big E had this to say on Feb 13, 2006 Posts: 7
  • This is a smart blog. I mean it. You have so much knowledge about this issue, and so much passion. You also know how to make people rally behind it, obviously from the responses. Well done!
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    Samuel had this to say on Sep 13, 2011 Posts: 26
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