When Powell gave birth in 1991, a few months after her wedding to Jobs, their child was known for two weeks as “baby boy Jobs,” because settling on a name was proving only slightly less difficult than choosing a washing machine. Finally, they named him Reed Paul Jobs. His middle name was that of Jobs’s father, and his first name (both Jobs and Powell insist) was chosen because it sounded good rather than because it was the name of Jobs’s college.
Reed turned out to be like his father in many ways: incisive and smart, with intense eyes and a mesmerizing charm. But unlike his father, he had sweet manners and a self-effacing grace. He was creative—as a kid he liked to dress in costume and stay in character—and also a great student, interested in science. He could replicate his father’s stare, but he was demonstrably affectionate and seemed not to have an ounce of cruelty in his nature.
Erin Siena Jobs was born in 1995. She was a little quieter and sometimes suffered from not getting much of her father’s attention. She picked up her father’s interest in design and architecture, but she also learned to keep a bit of an emotional distance, so as not to be hurt by his detachment.
The youngest child, Eve, was born in 1998, and she turned into a strong-willed, funny firecracker who, neither needy nor intimidated, knew how to handle her father, negotiate with him (and sometimes win), and even make fun of him. Her father joked that she’s the one who will run Apple someday, if she doesn’t become president of the United States.
Jobs developed a strong relationship with Reed, but with his daughters he was more distant. As he would with others, he would occasionally focus on them, but just as often would completely ignore them when he had other things on his mind. “He focuses on his work, and at times he has not been there for the girls,” Powell said. At one point Jobs marveled to his wife at how well their kids were turning out, “especially since we’re not always there for them.” This amused, and slightly annoyed, Powell, because she had given up her career when Reed turned two and she decided she wanted to have more children.
In 1995 Oracle’s CEO Larry Ellison threw a fortieth-birthday party for Jobs filled with tech stars and moguls. Ellison had become a close friend, and he would often take the Jobs family out on one of his many luxurious yachts. Reed started referring to him as “our rich friend,” which was amusing evidence of how his father refrained from ostentatious displays of wealth. The lesson Jobs learned from his Buddhist days was that material possessions often cluttered life rather than enriched it. “Every other CEO I know has a security detail,” he said. “They’ve even got them at their homes. It’s a nutso way to live. We just decided that’s not how we wanted to raise our kids.”
Buzz and Woody to the Rescue
“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible,” Walt Disney once said. That was the type of attitude that appealed to Jobs. He admired Disney’s obsession with detail and design, and he felt that there was a natural fit between Pixar and the movie studio that Disney had founded.
The Walt Disney Company had licensed Pixar’s Computer Animation Production System, and that made it the largest customer for Pixar’s computers. One day Jeffrey Katzenberg, the head of Disney’s film division, invited Jobs down to the Burbank studios to see the technology in operation. As the Disney folks were showing him around, Jobs turned to Katzenberg and asked, “Is Disney happy with Pixar?” With great exuberance, Katzenberg answered yes. Then Jobs asked, “Do you think we at Pixar are happy with Disney?” Katzenberg said he assumed so. “No, we’re not,” Jobs said. “We want to do a film with you. That would make us happy.”
Katzenberg was willing. He admired John Lasseter’s animated shorts and had tried unsuccessfully to lure him back to Disney. So Katzenberg invited the Pixar team down to discuss partnering on a film. When Catmull, Jobs, and Lasseter got settled at the conference table, Katzenberg was forthright. “John, since you won’t come work for me,” he said, looking at Lasseter, “I’m going to make it work this way.”
Just as the Disney company shared some traits with Pixar, so Katzenberg shared some with Jobs. Both were charming when they wanted to be, and aggressive (or worse) when it suited their moods or interests. Alvy Ray Smith, on the verge of quitting Pixar, was at the meeting. “Katzenberg and Jobs impressed me as a lot alike,” he recalled. “Tyrants with an amazing gift of gab.” Katzenberg was delightfully aware of this. “Everybody thinks I’m a tyrant,” he told the Pixar team. “I am a tyrant. But I’m usually right.” One can imagine Jobs saying the same.
As befitted two men of equal passion, the negotiations between Katzenberg and Jobs took months. Katzenberg insisted that Disney be given the rights to Pixar’s proprietary technology for making 3-D animation. Jobs refused, and he ended up winning that engagement. Jobs had his own demand: Pixar would have part ownership of the film and its characters, sharing control of both video rights and sequels. “If that’s what you want,” Katzenberg said, “we can just quit talking and you can leave now.” Jobs stayed, conceding that point.
Lasseter was riveted as he watched the two wiry and tightly wound principals parry and thrust. “Just to see Steve and Jeffrey go at it, I was in awe,” he recalled. “It was like a fencing match. They were both masters.” But Katzenberg went into the match with a saber, Jobs with a mere foil. Pixar was on the verge of bankruptcy and needed a deal with Disney far more than Disney needed a deal with Pixar. Plus, Disney could afford to finance the whole enterprise, and Pixar couldn’t. The result was a deal, struck in May 1991, by which Disney would own the picture and its characters outright, have creative control, and pay Pixar about 12.5% of the ticket revenues. It had the option (but not the obligation) to do Pixar’s next two films and the right to make (with or without Pixar) sequels using the characters in the film. Disney could also kill the film at any time with only a small penalty.
The idea that John Lasseter pitched was called “Toy Story.” It sprang from a belief, which he and Jobs shared, that products have an essence to them, a purpose for which they were made. If the object were to have feelings, these would be based on its desire to fulfill its essence. The purpose of a glass, for example, is to hold water; if it had feelings, it would be happy when full and sad when empty. The essence of a computer screen is to interface with a human. The essence of a unicycle is to be ridden in a circus. As for toys, their purpose is to be played with by kids, and thus their existential fear is of being discarded or upstaged by newer toys. So a buddy movie pairing an old favorite toy with a shiny new one would have an essential drama to it, especially when the action revolved around the toys’ being separated from their kid. The original treatment began, “Everyone has had the traumatic childhood experience of losing a toy. Our story takes the toy’s point of view as he loses and tries to regain the single thing most important to him: to be played with by children. This is the reason for the existence of all toys. It is the emotional foundation of their existence.”