Ed Catmull: A Steve Jobs IPO Story | Summary and Q&A

May 5, 2014
Stanford eCorner
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Ed Catmull: A Steve Jobs IPO Story

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In this video, the speaker talks about the challenges and successes they faced in making a groundbreaking animated film. They discuss their relationship with Steve Jobs, the initial skepticism from Disney, the decision to go public, and the overwhelming success of the film and its IPO.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did the speaker and their team feel about Steve Jobs' involvement in the project?

The speaker and their team had a good relationship with Steve Jobs and valued his input, but they didn't want him to be involved full time. They believed he was really good part time because he had an outward-facing perspective that was beneficial.

Q: What difficulties did the team encounter during the process of making the movie?

The team faced numerous challenges, having been through failures together. They made a lot of mis-estimates and the first version of the film didn't work well. However, as they progressed, it became clear that they were onto something big.

Q: How did Disney initially view the film?

Disney initially saw the film as a boutique project and didn't believe it would be successful enough to warrant consumer products. Therefore, they didn't invest in any consumer products based on the film.

Q: Why did Steve Jobs believe they could revolutionize the industry?

As the team got closer to completing the movie and realized its potential, Steve Jobs saw an opportunity to revolutionize the industry. He believed that because they would likely have the second film out before anyone else, they could establish themselves as leaders.

Q: What was the original deal that the team had with Disney?

The team had a deal with Disney where they would receive only three to five percent of the profit from the film. Steve Jobs considered this a very unfavorable deal.

Q: What was Steve Jobs' plan to improve the deal with Disney?

Steve Jobs gathered John Lasseter and the speaker and proposed a plan. He predicted that once the film was successful, Disney's CEO Michael Eisner would want to renegotiate the contract to keep them working together. Jobs planned to ask for 50% of the profits in the renegotiation, but to do that, they needed to put up 50% of the money themselves. This led Steve to suggest going public to raise the necessary funds.

Q: What was the initial reaction of John and the speaker to Steve Jobs' plan to go public?

John and the speaker were initially taken aback by Steve Jobs' suggestion to go public, feeling it was too early. They wanted to prove the worth of their company before making such a leap.

Q: How did Steve Jobs convince the team to go public?

Steve Jobs, being persuasive as ever, put on a roadshow and showed pieces of the movie to investors. He pitched the idea that the company would go public one week after the movie's release, demonstrating that they were changing the industry. This compelling argument convinced the team to go forward with the IPO.

Q: How successful was the IPO of the company?

The IPO of the company turned out to be a massive success. It was the largest IPO of the year, surpassing even Netscape. This was a significant achievement for the team and validated their decision to go public.

Q: Can you summarize the speaker's overall experience with the film and its IPO?

The speaker and their team faced challenges while making the film but eventually found great success. Steve Jobs played a pivotal role in renegotiating the deal with Disney and convincing them to go public. The IPO turned out to be a massive triumph, propelling the company into the spotlight and changing the industry.


The speaker's recounting of their experience highlights the importance of perseverance and believing in one's project. Despite initial challenges and skepticism, their team was able to create a groundbreaking film that revolutionized the animation industry. The success of their IPO further solidified their position as leaders in the field.

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