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An upcoming book reveals Steve Jobs informed Disney boss Bob Iger in 2006 that his cancer had returned, a secret Iger kept for three years until the information went public.
According to the forthcoming biography "Becoming Steve Jobs," Jobs dropped the bombshell just minutes before he and Iger were scheduled to announce Disney's $7.4 billion acquisition of Pixar.
"Bob, there's something really important I've got to tell you," Jobs reportedly said. "My cancer is back."
The revelation was aired in an excerpt of the book published by Fast Company on Friday. The publication's executive editor veteran Rick Tetzeli co-authored Jobs' biography with technology journalist and Fortune writer Brent Schlender.
When Iger received the news, Jobs' condition was only known by his wife and doctor. With a major acquisition that would make Jobs Disney's single largest shareholder just minutes away, Iger had a tough call to make.
Iger recalled the conversation:
He said, "I've made myself a promise that I'm going to be alive for Reed's graduation from high school." [Reed is Jobs's eldest son.]
So I say, of course, "How old is Reed?"
He tells me that Reed is fourteen, and will be graduating in four years. He says, "Frankly, they tell me I've got a fifty-fifty chance of living five years."
"Are you telling me this for any other reason than wanting to get it off your chest?" I asked.
He says, "I'm telling you because I'm giving you a chance to back out of the deal."
Iger also recalled Jobs saying, "My kids don't know. Not even the Apple board knows. Nobody knows, and you can't tell anybody."
Iger assessed risk to shareholders and went through with the deal, only notifying Disney vice president and general counsel Alan Braverman of the development.
A separate report on Friday from Bloomberg, which obtained an advance copy of the biography, adds color to the story, saying Iger 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."
Over the ensuing years, Iger grew close to Jobs and was ultimately given a seat on Apple's board in 2011.
"I always knew exactly what was going on with Steve medically," Iger said.