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Disney CEO Bob Iger recalls close working relationship with Steve Jobs

Late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs found a "true partner" in Bob Iger, according to a new profile of the Disney chief executive, with Jobs going so far as to hand-pick Iger to succeed him on Apple's board of directors.

Jobs and Iger in 2007

Jobs and Iger in 2007


After Iger personally reached out to mend the then-strained relationship between Disney and Pixar in 2005, "Steve recognized that in Bob he actually had a partner," Pixar's Ed Catmull recounted to Fortune. "In the subsequent years they thought of each other as true partners. That's what he wanted, and that's not what he had previously."

Within days of Iger's ascension to the top job at Disney— and after less than one week of negotiating— he agreed to distribute ABC programming on the iTunes store, announcing the move alongside Jobs at the unveiling of Apple's video iPod in 2005. That pact, Iger recalled, came at a significant but worthwhile cost.

"We got backlash from everybody--from affiliates, retailers, and the guilds," he said. "But it changed my relationship with him [Jobs] bigtime. And it led to a much better dialogue on Pixar." Disney ultimately acquired Pixar for $7.4 billion in 2006.

Iger also recalled a number of conversations with Jobs in which the two discussed much broader themes.

"Occasionally we would stand in front of a whiteboard and talk about ideas," Iger told the publication. "We'd just muse on business. When you think about it, media's the intersection of content and technology--it's all about storytelling, like photography and the camera. So we'd talk about that a lot, the intersection between the story and the gadget."

Jobs, of course, famously positioned Apple as a company at "the intersection of liberal arts and technology." Both companies continue to work closely together, and Jobs's replacement, Tim Cook, also sung Iger's praises.

"He has the courage to lose sight of the shore," Cook said. "He understands the tradition of Disney but isn't wedded to it."