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January 30, 2006
Jobs' Magic Kingdom: What's your take?
Hi again, folks. I took a bit of breather after closing this week's cover in BusinessWeek, entitled Steve Jobs' Magic Kingdom. But I'm back, and we've just posted a full Q&A I did with former DuPont CEO Edgar Woolard, who was the Apple board member that convinced Jobs to come back to work as CEO of Apple back in 1997. I've only had a few occasions to speak with Woolard, but he's always gracious, as forthcoming as he can be, and in particular, optimistic and productive in his outlook. It's easy to see why he's been so successful in business. You get the sense this is a guy who can quickly find his way through problems, to find answers that all parties in a situation can live with.
I called him in the course of reporting out the cover story, in the belief that few have had a better front-row seat to Jobs' MO in the boardroom than he. What's his prediction? That Disney's newest shareholder will be a great boon to Disney's board and to Bob Iger, and not at all the disruptive force that some have suggested. What do you think?
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Hah! What, you want another compliment?!? I think that was just about the best insight into Steve, I've read on BW. Compared to all the pandering hype elsewhere, the Woolard interview was excellent, just excellent. Real insight into Jobs. Thanks for doing something fresh!
Posted by: KenC at January 30, 2006 06:44 PM
It'll be "synergistic," of course (and this time we have a good shot at finding out what that word is meant to mean in the world of business).
Disruptive? If you mean disruptive as in iPod or the iTunes Music Store, that can only be a good thing for Disney. They could use some fresh ideas. But as for negative disruption, Pixar is a perfect example of how Jobs leaves well enough alone with excellent results. Much has already been written about Jobs's "hands-off" approach -- as CEO of the company, no less -- so how does it follow that gaining a seat on the Board of Directors leads to him taking over the Magic Kingdom? Woolard's take was right on.
Posted by: Mav at January 31, 2006 12:54 AM
Good article but now that he has returned to Apple, people can see he's a changed man - is he arrogant, sure - but most founder CEO's are and rightly so. And unless you're Bobby Knight, most people grow to be more social, flexible and diplomatic as they age and gain experience as Steve has done.
Certainly at Apple, he's more hands-on because it's something he's a techie and a hacker at heart - only he has the accuman of a brilliant marketer so he can be more hands on and be respected by both the manufacturing arm and the marketing arm of Apple - after all, how can you argue with the guy who brought/coaxed or breathed life into: personal computers, Apple I, Apple II, Mac, iMac, ipod, et etc , etc ...
If anything, Disney is now smart to have him on their side. If things go awry and too far from center, you have someone who can point them in the right direction. At some point way down the line Iger is going to leave or move on - and they might have to turn to Steve but isn't it better tio have in your camp than not?
Posted by: jbelkin at February 6, 2006 09:54 PM