How Apple's Steve Jobs Played a Big Role in Disney's Acquisition of Marvel

Disney CEO Bob Iger has revealed details on how deceased Apple CEO Steve Jobs helped bring Marvel Entertainment into the House of Mouse.

Iger and Jobs played instrumental roles in the Disney-Pixar merger in 2006. From the acquisition, an unlikely friendship formed between the two business titans. Around 2009, Iger was looking into acquiring Marvel and looked to Jobs' business sense as a source of strategy.

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"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 told Vanity Fair. "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 had trouble convincing Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter that Disney acquiring Marvel would be beneficial for both companies: He spoke about having Jobs vouch for him.

"I asked him if he’d be willing to reach out to Ike Perlmutter, Marvel’s CEO and controlling shareholder, and vouch for me," Iger said. "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. Every once in a while, I would say to him, 'I have to ask you this, you’re our largest shareholder,' and he would always respond, 'You can’t think of me as that. That’s insulting. I’m just a good friend.'"

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In addition to Jobs' influence on the Marvel acquisition, Iger looked back with fondness over his time with Jobs. "You don’t expect to develop such close friendships late in life, but when I think back on my time as CEO—at the things I’m most grateful for and surprised by—my relationship with Steve is one of them," he said.  "He could criticize me, and I could disagree, and neither of us took it too personally."

He added, "He was quick to judge people, and when he criticized, it was often quite harsh. That said, he came to all the board meetings and actively participated, giving the kind of objective criticism you’d expect from any board member. He rarely created trouble for me. Not never but rarely."

Despite Jobs' icy persona, hearing Iger speak on the Apple CEO's influence on the Marvel acquisition as well as their friendship gives a different view of the man behind Apple.

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