Steve Jobs Should Quit Apple and Head Disney

by James R. Stoup May 30, 2006

I think that Mr. Jobs has done a wonderful job bringing Apple back from the brink of death. He has completely revolutionized the industry and set Apple on sound financial footing for many years to come. In fact, even if Apple just cruises through the next couple of years without doing anything terribly ground breaking, it will still continue to gain market share and increase profits based on the work that Jobs has already done. In fact, I don’t think its unreasonable to say that Jobs’ most innovative years are now behind him and that anything else he produces won’t have the same impact or response as his two most iconic creations, the iMac and the iPod. Thus I am suggesting that perhaps Mr. Jobs leave now, while he is still at the top of his game. Let Mr. Ive and the rest of the staff he has trained handle things from here because it is time to move on to bigger and better things.

Now, let me be clear, I don’t think Steve Jobs should retire, buy a funny hat and tour the country in an RV. Far from it. I do think he can still make a difference in the lives of consumers, however, I think he can make a bigger difference at another company than he can at Apple regardless of what else he manages to create there.

Recently I read a very fascinating book about a business visionary who was decades ahead of his competition. He didn’t give the public what they thought they wanted, he gave them what they actually desired, even if they didn’t know what that might be themselves. This inventor and story teller crafted products of such allure that they endure to this day as beloved classics. He oversaw, with an almost fanatical attention to detail, the innerworkings of his empire and while he lived it flourished into one of the most renowned companies of the 20th century. Who am I reffering to? Walt Disney of course. The man behind the magic of Micky Mouse, Disney World and (what would eventually morph into) the current day media empire. Reading about the life of Walt Disney is to look into the world of a true genius, a man who just knew what would work and what wouldn’t. He knew that sound would be big when everybody else dismissed it as a cheap gimick. He knew that color would easily replace black and white despite the fact that it cost more. He realized that the real money was in merchandising and that people actually would pay money to walk around a fantasy land he had created in California.

For several decades everything he touched seemed to turn to gold. And he worked feverishly overseeing the construction of his second partk in Florida right up to his death. There have been very few men like Walt Disney who could so easily predict and understand what his audience really wanted and needed. I believe Steve Jobs has that same gift of insight. And I think that talent is now being wasted at Apple. Because as much good as he could do there, I can only begin to dream about what he could do if he set his mind to recreating the Disney Empire.

A good example of what could be done is to examine Disney’s theme parks. For instance, take a look at Disney World in Florida. The area conatins 4 theme parks, a race track, numerous hotels, resort lodgings, golf courses and a wildlife perserve and still only 3/4 of it are in use. The entire property is larger than San Francisco. I look at something like that and wonder how Jobs could remake it?

Because the theme parks have strayed quite a bit from Walt Disney’s original dream. They have become much more commercial (an understandable, if undesirable result of its growth) and not nearly as remarkable as they once were. A good example of this is to compare the Disney World experience with that of Busch Gardens, Williamsburg. Both are theme parks, both have rides, attractions, animals and performers (though Disney World is on a far larger scale) but they still differ in a signifigant way. Disney World is impressive because of its size, Busch Gardens is impressive because of its atmosphere. It just has something that Disney World lacks that it once had in abundance. Remember, all modern theme parks originally used Disney as their model. And while Disney World has since strayed from that course, Busch Gardens has not. That is why for the last dozen or so years it has consistently been named America’s cleanest park.

But that can be a misleading statement. Don’t think that the only thing that separates the two is how much trash is on the ground. Rather it is the entire experience. Everything seems to flow at BG while DW has gotten a certain “tacked-on” feeling to it. In short, what Disney World really needs (and what BG already has) is a true vision of what it wants to be. And if ever there was a leader who knew how to get his vision acomplished it is Steve Jobs.

There it is, there is my plan. Steve Jobs should leave Apple in the next two years. Maybe he can wait until the transition to Intel is complete and OS X 10.5 has been released. After that I think he should hang up his mighty mouse in favor of Mickey Mouse and start on the rebirth of the Disney Empire. It is a much bigger job than turning around Apple, it will take years and it will affect millions of consumers but I think it is worth it. Steve, you have done all you can for Apple, now it is time to leave your hobby behind and pick up where Walt Disney left off. The world is waiting, so Mr. Jobs, go inspire us.


  • For that matter, we could have Mr. Jobs take over any Fortune 500 company and by the sheer might of his visionary prowness, do incredible things. Just imagine:

    1) GM - actually product cars that have a quality to rival the best Japanese automakers - oh, and integrate much better with the iPod. New sports car: the Grand Mac.

    2) GE - actually make and sell the world’s first iPod killing MP3 player and brand it as the gPod.

    3) Goldman Sachs - so he could do his own reviews about himself.

    The point is, he will stay at Apple. It is HIS company and his creation. Why leave that to head someone else’s? Far more likely to see him move Apple into far more areas of people’s lives: business, intelligent TV’s, communications, iAppliance integration, gaming etc.. Apple has music/tv/movies covered, and other entertainment forms will also be close behind…

    milklover had this to say on May 30, 2006 Posts: 22
  • This is not actually Jobs’s decision to make… personally I’d rather Apple was as good as it can be. But then Disney can rot for all I care.*

    *Pixar excluded.

    Benji had this to say on May 30, 2006 Posts: 927
  • There’s a stereo rack in my living room that has a receiver, a VCR, a DVD changer, a CD changer, a double cassette player and a TV.  To listen to music, I hook up the iPod.  In all I’m dealing with four remotes which would be five if I choose to get the iPod remote.

    That’s the opportunity right there that I bet Apple is feverishly working on right this very minute.  From there you move to whole-house control/automation and the opportunities multiply further.

    tundraboy had this to say on May 30, 2006 Posts: 132
  • Jobs has already ‘taken over’ Disney so to speak. John Lasseter (producer of “Toy Story”, “A Bugs Life” et al) was placed in charge of the parks as a result of the merger, with the concurrence of Bob Eiger, CEO of the Walt Disney Company.

    Lasseter is to storytelling what Jobs is to hardware design, and the parks are very much about storytelling - putting the guest into the story. Look for good things to come of this change, not that the parks are in bad shape today.

    But as for Jobs himself, I would expect he will stay exactly where he is - at Apple… As he has publicly stated.

    dlm3 had this to say on May 30, 2006 Posts: 1
  • One day when Steve is done, as in bored, concocting magical stuff out of his mind, he will then step up (not down) to become chairman of the bored (pun intended) smile

    But as I have mentioned previously, for this to happen, his CEO-designate would have to be his equal if not exceed his abilities. Unfortunately, there is no one at Apple that comes close (at least, we are not aware of his existence at this point). For that, the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) factor is too great even for the board of directors to consider.

    Jonathan Ive is a superb designer (  a God to some art/design folks. I reserve my opinion of him until he is christened further up the corporate ladder.

    Avie Tevanian ( will return if given the opportunity in this position. He is a proto-Steve in my mind being exposed to His RDF for too long. I would like him designated as His heir-designate. Perhaps a COO/President of Worldwide Ops for a few years until he’s fully assimilated.

    As far as Steve taking the reins at Disney however tempting it might be will not happen. I agree to dlm3’s assertion that Steve will let his creative storyteller - John Lasseter ( - at Pixar/Disney Studios to walk down this path to future Disney Corp. CEO. He is a master of his domain - an obsessive imagination. A story-telling genius with no equal today (ok, so Dreamworks’ Shrek comes close, but…) since the immortal Walter Disney himself.

    As for the proverbial remote control that does it all (tundraboy), this one is being worked on not by Apple but a new org - HANA or The High-Definition Audio-Video Network Alliance ( Its fundamental technology being 1394a/b over home coaxial network. I have seen with my own eyes that one remote control CAN and will control every device in your house (prototype at this stage). Apple will be best served joining and promoting this technology. Go check it out.

    Robomac had this to say on May 30, 2006 Posts: 846
  • I think Steve Jobs is having too good a time at Apple right now.  It has taken him a long time to get the whole company behind his vision and, for that matter, for his vision to develop.  Also, he has had some luck - the iPod /iTunes phenomenon has been much more successful than I think anyone imagined, and the marketing muscle this has delivered makes lots of fun things possible.

    Steve is having fun right now, and he seems, to me, to be in the right place at the right time.  He has the experience now and the skills to take advantage of the opportunity.  He also has the confidence to insist on having how own way - and his insistence on good design is striking a chord with the marketplace.

    I doubt that Disney interests him,  He would not have the same clear run at Disney - there would be lots of entrenched interests to deal with.  And what would he do with it?  What could you do with it?  Walt’s vision was of another era - the world is a different place today.

    Nah.  Apple gives Steve a vehicle to demonstrate his flair without having to do battle every day to impose his ideas.  He will only leave Apple if (a) he gets bored or (b) the market turns against him or (c) the company’s financial management isn’t up to the task.

    sydneystephen had this to say on May 30, 2006 Posts: 124
  • Lasseter is to storytelling what Jobs is to hardware design, and the parks are very much about storytelling - putting the guest into the story.

    I agree with this.  Part of what made Disney work in the golden era was the partnership between the creative Walt and his more practical business-minded brother Roy.  That was somewhat dupublicated in the new golden era at Disney with Eisner and president Frank Wells.  When Wells died and Kats left, that was the beginning of the end of that ride.

    Lasseter is the more appropriately creative-minded between the two and would, IMO, serve that function better than Jobs.  Iger would be the more obvious choice to balance out the practical business side.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on May 30, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • I have to start off my saying that I am both a huge Apple fan and a huge Disney fan (I am leaving for my 21st trip to Disney World on Friday).

    I think Disney needs some guidance; they need someone like Walt. The number of people still with the company who worked with Walt is dwindling. They are the last few who can try and make them do things the way Walt would’ve wanted. Once they’re gone, who knows? They need someone with the vision and determination of Walt, someone with a genuine love for the company, someone who can make the company flourish. I have no doubt that Steve has the genius to improve the company in general. I just wonder if he has the pixie dust to restore the parks to their glory.

    I have seen a steady decline in the quality of the parks over the years. Years ago, bathrooms were immaculate, paint wasn’t chipping, the sidewalk wasn’t dirty, and new rides & shows had some real vision. This is no longer the case. We’re now getting ride clones everywhere (Soarin’ from DCA to Epcot, Tower of Terror from MGM to DCA), the closures of some really entertaining shows in favour of more cloned crap (The Timekeeper at the MK is now closed, with rumours of either a Toy Story or Monsters Inc ride taking its place), and the threat of closure for the classics (Carousel of Progress). Bathrooms are filthy and the paint is chipping off buildings.

    “a wildlife perserve”
    If you are referring to Discovery Island in the middle of Bay Lake, it’s now closed and the animals have been relocated to the Animal Kingdom. River Country, the water park on Bay Lake, is also closed. It sits there, unkempt, leaving guests to wonder what happened.

    Kristen had this to say on May 31, 2006 Posts: 9
  • “In fact, I don’t think its unreasonable to say that Jobs’ most innovative years are now behind him and that anything else he produces won’t have the same impact or response as his two most iconic creations, the iMac and the iPod.”

    Are you a moron?  What you’re essentially saying is “Because I cant think of anything Steve might come up with in the next couple years, i’m going to assume all his good ideas are over.”

    mungler had this to say on Jun 05, 2006 Posts: 16
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