A Corporate Muse?

I read Robert Cringely’s on-line column every week. I don’t always agree with what he says, but invariably he gives me something to think about. In a recent column he poses the intriguing idea, “What if, instead of having to accept the board presence of Steve Jobs as a cost of getting Pixar’s animation talent and film library, Disney actually views the transaction as buying Pixar TO GET Steve Jobs and then gaining the animation bits as a bonus?”

To find why he thinks that Robert Iger, CEO of Disney wants Jobs so badly you have to go to the end of the piece where he says:
“For the entertainment industries, the next 10 years will be the most revolutionary in a century. Broadcast TV as we knew it is going away, replaced by a Chinese entertainment menu of such complexity that even knowing what’s “on” tonight will be beyond the abilities of most viewers. At some point, too, movies will be subsumed into television and recorded music will find its own new place with new rules. This will be Steve Jobs’s world and we’ll all just be visitors. It’s obvious to me and, evidently, to Iger, too.”

Before that, after admitting that he is no great fan of Steve Jobs, having called him a sociopath in print and still holding that position , Cringely goes on to argue that after reading a piece by film historian Neal Gabler on Walt Disney he believes that:
“… Disney and Jobs have a lot in common. Both were iconoclasts and loners, driven by creative visions and always a bit out of sync with their peers. Both were dreamers, but dreamers who for the most part realized their dreams. Both believed that the purpose of being in business was to create a unique product that came to define an experience for customers. Rod Canion and Michael Dell and Ted Waitt never talked about user experience, but Jobs and Disney did, right from the beginning of their careers.”

“… Disney is in the film, TV, sports, publishing, and hospitality industries, but none of its major competitors — none — are run by people who come to their positions with anything like an artistic drive or a real sense of what their customers want. Does Sumner Redstone understand MTV? Does GE have an artistic molecule in its “lop off the bottom 10 percent” corporate culture? Does Rupert Murdoch really understand his own success and its ultimate cost? Does ever-imploding Sony even know what to do with its music and movie empires? No, no, no, and no.
If Robert Iger creates a miracle at Disney, which I think he will, that miracle is Steve Jobs. We’re in a new century with new realities, but we haven’t yet found a new archetype for enlightened corporate power. Bill Gates? Give me a break! What we have are people in power who have no muse and wouldn’t recognize one if they could even hear her. Steve Jobs knows his muse.”