Walt Disney Co CEO Bob Iger discovered that Jobs’ cancer had returned less than an hour before Disney announced it was buying Jobs’ Pixar studio in 2006.
However he kept the Apple co-founder’s condition a secret for three years.
Iger told the authors of yet another biography of Jobs, “Becoming Steve Jobs,” he thought about the implications of keeping such a secret at a time when regulators were calling for more disclosure and holding executives more accountable to their fiduciary duties.
The $7 billion deal to buy Pixar made Jobs Disney’s largest shareholder and put him on the entertainment company’s board. Iger decided that Disney was assessing the transaction on the value of Pixar, not Jobs, and his medical condition did not need to be disclosed, the biography said.
Jobs told Iger that the cancer had returned while they were on a private walk at Pixar’s Emeryville, California, campus about 30 minutes before the deal was to be announced. “Frankly, they tell me I’ve got a 50-50 chance of living five years,” Iger quoted Jobs as saying.
According to the book, Iger said he told Jobs: “You’re our largest shareholder, but I don’t think that makes this matter. You’re not material to this deal. We’re buying Pixar, we’re not buying you.”
It would have been interesting if his shareholders agreed. Most people at the time thought Jobs’ involvement was a divine blessing on a company and had news of his death leaked out, the value of Pixar might have fallen.
Jobs had a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2003 and underwent surgery the following year. The tumor returned and he had a liver transplant in 2009. Jobs died in October 2011.
Apparently the new book is supposed to be “more sympathetic” than the 2011 biography by Walter Isaacson, who dared to say that Jobs was not that nice at certain times and was a bit messy in his personal life.