How Steve Jobs Put the Disney/Marvel Deal Over the Top

When we speak about the Disney/Marvel merger, it all comes down to the late Steve Jobs. Yes, it’s true, he didn’t like comic books that much, but he knew for sure what it meant to do business. In a recent op-ed for Vanity Fair, Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed that Jobs played a pivotal role in Marvel’s acquisition by Disney.

“Steve became a Disney board member and our largest shareholder, and whenever I wanted to do something big, I talked it over with him,” Iger wrote. “In 2009, after our very successful acquisition of Pixar, we were interested in acquiring Marvel, so I met with Steve and walked him through the business. He claimed to have never read a comic book in his life (“I hate them more than I hate video games,” he told me), so I brought an encyclopedia of Marvel characters with me to explain the universe to him and show him what we would be buying. He spent about 10 seconds looking at it, then pushed it aside and said, “Is this one important to you? Do you really want it? Is it another Pixar?”

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Iger went on adding that Jobs called CEO of Marvel Entertainment Ike Perlmutter and convinced him to go for the merger with Disney.

“When it came to the Marvel question, I told him that I wasn’t sure if it was another Pixar, but they had great talent at the company, and the content was so rich that if we held the IP, it would put some real distance between us and everyone else,” Iger added. “I asked him if he’d be willing to reach out to Ike Perlmutter, Marvel’s CEO and controlling shareholder, and vouch for me. Later, after we’d closed the deal, Ike told me that he’d still had his doubts and the call from Steve made a big difference. “He said you were true to your word,” Ike said. I was grateful that Steve was willing to do it as a friend, really, more than as the most influential member of our board.”

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