Former Apple Board Member Talks Steve Jobs’ Impact on Disney

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Edgar S. Woolard Jr., who was on Appleis board of directors when it purchased NeXT Software and allowed Steve Jobs to succeed Gil Amelio as CEO, doesnit believe Mr. Jobs will "come in with a heavy hand" at Disney, which purchased Pixar last week.

The former DuPont CEO, who was one of two Apple board members who survived a 1997 shakeup, told BusinessWeekis Peter Burrows: "I think he will try very hard to identify opportunities, and I think he will listen carefully to what Iger and the Disney management team has in mind, and will add suggestions." He also noted the "good relationship" between the new Disney chief and Mr. Jobs, adding: "If Steve has a good relationship with you, thereis nobody better in the world to work with. He trusts you, and he listens, and he bounces his ideas off you. But if he doesnit trust you, it doesnit work."

As for his own relationship with the Apple CEO, Mr. Woolard said: "He didnit agree with everything I said, but I never found him to be stubborn or unwilling to consider ideas." He also cited "five special characteristics" he found in Mr. Jobs: incredible creativity and vision; perfectionism; the ability to "attract outstanding people to work with him;" willingness to "interact with you and modify his ideas;" and the ability to "just make money."

Mr. Woolard also noted Mr. Jobsi willingness to make sweeping changes, such as his move to dramatically reduce the complexity of Appleis product line when he first became CEO. "Our jaws dropped on that one," he recalled. "But it was brilliant."

Had Mr. Jobs not returned to Apple, Mr. Woolard believes the company would have gone bankrupt. He told Mr. Burrows: "Cash was running out, a lot of good people were leaving, and the stock had gone from $40 to $12. And nobody wanted to buy the company."

As for concerns that Mr. Jobs may be angling for Mr. Igeris job, Mr. Woolard said: "Thatis so phony ... He has no desire to be the CEO of a big multifaceted company. He likes to be in the action -- where he can get three or four people to work around the clock to come up with some great idea. My God, I think the bureaucracy at Disney would drive him crazy!

"And guess what? He still has a full-time job at Apple, and heis got to keep coming up with new iPods and iMacs. Heis got a big job there."

In fact, Mr. Woolard revealed that not only did Mr. Jobs refuse a salary when he came back to Apple, but he initially refused stock options that the former board member said would have been worth US$500 million. "He didnit want the people of Apple to think he was just there for the money," Mr. Woolard said.

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