The name of Steven Jobs, CEO of both Pixar and Apple Computer, has appeared around the periphery of the Disney-Eisner issue because of the ongoing negotiations between Disney and Pixar. Though the connection is tenuous, there are some interesting analogies to be made and lessons to be observed.

Steve Jobs is a living example that what Roy E. Disney has set out to do, can in fact be done.

Steve Jobs has been there, and back. He was a founding partner of Apple Computer, but he was in a sense the Roy O. Disney of Apple. Steve Wozniak was the creative genius, and Steve Jobs make the idea work as a business. He was deposed from company leadership at a difficult time in the company's history, but he went right out and founded Next Computer, played his cards carefully, and at the right time, returned to (as he sees it anyway) his rightful throne as CEO of Apple.

Steve Jobs did not invent micromanagement, but he may have perfected it. Michael Eisner is an amateur by comparison. Michael Eisner's ego is too big for his or Disney's good, but it is no match for Job's ego. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to deify Jobs, because he does it so well on his own!

So why do I believe that Steven Jobs, arrogant SOB that he may be, is the right CEO for Apple Computer?

Because he believes in Apple Computer! As fervently and completely as any of his employees. He understands that the mission of Apple Computer is to Do It Right, and that sales and stockholder value will take care of themselves if a quality product is produced. These days, the job of CEO at a large corporation in the public eye is not really about management or accounting. There are plenty of managers and accountants in Apple, and in Disney; hey, there are even some good ones! But the real job of the CEO is leadership, focus, and vision, and there are few CEO's who have vision like Steve Jobs. Not that he's always been right, far from it, but he kept the Apple vision alive when it was in jeopardy, when the media spent five years writing ignorant self-serving stories about why Apple would not survive.

Can there be any doubt that this kind of vision is what is needed in a Disney CEO?! (Sing "hallelujah!" Ain't it great preachin' to the choir!) Of course I don't mean Jobs himself, but rather someone who believes in the Disney mission as fervently as Jobs believes in Apple. The answer just pops out of a slot, doesn't it?

There is a lot of similarity between Apple Computer and The Disney Corporation. They are two of a small number companies whose very existence depends on the public's perception of them as a company that has the Do It Right approach, and on customer loyalty that must be taken into account with every decision that is made.

That is why Michael Eisner, with his statement that "enhancing stockholder value" is the number one job at Disney, in a single stroke disqualifies himself from being CEO of Disney. Like Apple, Disney is publicly owned, but needs to be privately operated to function well. Jobs has done this reasonably well at Apple, doing his best to placate shareholders and Wall Street suits so that the company can concentrate on doing what it does best, and needs to do for long-term survival. This is another important aspect of a CEO's job. Eisner on the other hand appears to have taken the low road to "enhancing stockholder value" by consuming the companies most important assets. Whatever you think of Steven Jobs, he is no fool and no doubt sees this more clearly than myself.

It has already been speculated that Steve Jobs may play a role in the Disney-Eisner saga by deciding with which he prefers to negotiate the Pixar contract. I think his potential effect has been underestimated. If he decides He wants Eisner out, for the right reasons or the wrong ones, he has a lot of weight to throw around. He is not somebody you want to have as an enemy.