Disney and Pixar’s Iconic Film ‘Toy Story’ Made Steve Jobs a Billionaire 21 Years Ago Today

Disney and Pixar’s Iconic Film 'Toy Story' Made Steve Jobs a Billionaire 21 Years Ago Today
Text Size
- +

Toggle Dark Mode

Back during the mid-1990s — amidst a swath of tech-company Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) having popped up on the U.S. stock exchange — one of the first emerging firms to make a splash selling themselves to the public was Pixar — a relatively young, animated motion-picture startup whose blockbuster debut of the original Toy Story (1995) set the stage for many more wonderful and lucrative endeavors that ensued.

Disney and Pixar’s Iconic Film 'Toy Story' Made Steve Jobs a Billionaire 21 Years Ago TodayAnd one of Pixar’s most notable, majority shareholders in the wake of its IPO was none other than Apple late co-founder, Steve Jobs — who, at the time, owned a whopping 80% of the animated entertainment company.

So when Pixar made the wager of a lifetime on the success of Toy Story, arguably its crown jewel of the mid-90s, the firm was understandably ecstatic when their hard work grossed an impressive $358 million worldwide at the box office, alone — rendering it the 2nd most popular animated film of all time, right behind Disney’s The Lion King. Soon to follow was the Pixar IPO on November 29th, 1995, and, with over 4.8 million of those $39-apiece shares of the newly public company belonging to Steve Jobs, he was officially welcomed into the Silicon Valley “Billionaire’s club.”

As CultOfMac reports, the very first thing Jobs did amidst the realization of his new fortune was call his good friend and Silicon Valley heavyweight, Larry Ellison, who’s claim to fame was founding and building his ORACLE software empire.

“Hello, Larry?” Jobs reportedly said to his friend over the phone. “I made it!”

Indeed, even long before his return to Apple in 1997, Steve Jobs had already amassed a fortune worth over nine figures. Yet Pixar, for its part, was merely the first of many high-value tech-companies to experience such a successful IPO.

Check out the exclusive interview between Jobs and the Swiss TV Network, which took place shortly after his rise to stardom in 1996, below. Believe it or not, during his time away from Apple, Jobs chose to invest heavily in Pixar, as well as a few other firms, who were doing one of the things he enjoyed most of all — creating animated films for all to enjoy.

Even despite the success that followed him, Jobs’ involvement with Pixar — even to this day — remains an achievement that most people would otherwise question whether he even deserves credit for. However, Jobs actually purchased the lion’s share of Pixar’s business from Star Wars creator, George Lucas, for a considerably more modest $10 million back in 1986. Therefore, since the decade or so that Jobs was absent from his role at Apple is seen as a time during which he basically achieved nothing — leading up to his re-joining the Cupertino team in early 1997 — Jobs so often goes unacknowledged for his interim, pivotal role at Pixar.

Then again, Job’s actual role at Pixar wasn’t necessarily a prominent one to begin with. Instead of being actively engaged in the company’s business dealings, Jobs remained more of a ‘behind-the-scenes’ kind of creative — opting instead to embrace a more passive role that would allow him to observe the working styles of the many, brilliant individuals and artists who made the firm a magnificent success.

‘To Infinity, and Beyond!’

Almost immediately following Pixar’s blockbuster debut of Toy Story, the firm signed an extremely lucrative, five-picture agreement with the Walt Disney Company — in which the two firms would work together, creating animated films that captivated the hearts of millions, while sharing equally in the profits of their labor. Yet, in another way, Jobs’ success at Pixar — whether it’s acknowledged by the general public as an achievement of his, or not — also catapulted the Silicon Valley tech-luminary to new heights in his journey back to Cupertino, where, as you and I both know, he became a billionaire all over again.

Social Sharing