The following is a continuation of the blog about Steve Jobs that appeared on December 6, 2011. As in the previous write-up, the facts and figures below are taken from the book, Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson.
The shock of being fired
In May, 1985, Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, the company he founded. The Apple board, who believed that Jobs immature and rough-edged personality was a negative element in the company, voted to fire him.
The future at age 30
Jobs owned 6.5 million shares of Apple stock worth more than $100 million which he sold within five months after being fired. In August, 1985, Jobs founded a company that would not compete with Apple. It would specialize in creating and marketing powerful, personal computers to universities.
The next computer
For his new company, Jobs wanted a world-class logo so he hired the dean of corporate logos, Paul Rand, who, when asked by Jobs how many options he would have to choose from, replied, “I do not do options. You will pay me a $100,000 fee to get one design.” Rand changed Next to NeXT and designed a logo that tilted at a 28-degree angle. Jobs loved it.
The Texas billionaire
In September, 1986, NeXT was hitting a financial wall so Jobs approached a number of venture capitalists to raise money for his struggling company. All turned him down, except Ross Perot, who saw Jobs as a “soul mate” and invested $20 million.
Perot traveled in elite social circles and invited Jobs to a black tie dinner where he was introduced to King Juan I of Spain. When Perot asked Jobs (the master salesman who could sell ice to the Eskimos) what they talked about, he replied, “I sold him a computer.”
The high-priced NeXT computer, for a variety of reasons, did not take off. The factory was primed to turn out 10,000 units a month. As it turned out, sales were about 400 a month.
The move to animation
In 1986, Jobs also invested in the computer division of George Lucas’ film studio. His belief that ordinary consumers would love to do 3-D modeling on Pixar software turned out to be wrong.
However, that was soon replaced by an instinct that turned out to be right: that combining great art and digital technology would transform animated films more than anything had since 1937, when Walt Disney had given life to Snow White.
Two years later, Jobs had poured $50 million of his own money into Pixar and was still losing money at NeXT.
The creation of a smash hit
On the verge of bankruptcy and needing a deal with Disney far more than Disney needed a deal with Pixar, Jobs joined with Jeffrey Katzenberg, the head of Disney’s film division to produce Toy Story. Both principals were described as “tyrants with an amazing gift of gab.”
Toy Story went through endless rewrites and editing. “I can’t tell you the number of versions of Toy Story I saw before it came out,” says Larry Ellison, Oracle’s CEO. “It eventually became a form of torture.”
In November, 1995 Toy Story had two premieres: one in Los Angeles for Disney and another in San Francisco for Pixar. It was a blockbuster commercial and critical success. The cost of production was recouped in the first weekend. And, it went on to earn a total of $362 million worldwide.
The IPO occurred one week after the opening and generated $1.2 billion. Or, about five times what Jobs made when Apple went public in 1980.
Update: In the New York Post of 1/25/12, under the heading, “Exploding Apple” it was reported that, in its first fiscal quarter this year, Apple generated $46.33 billion in revenue and a profit of $13.06 billion.