The new team at Disney—Michael Eisner the CEO and Jeffrey Katzenberg in the film
division—began a quest to get Lasseter to come back. They liked Tin Toy, and they
thought that something more could be done with animated stories of toys that come
alive and have human emotions. But Lasseter, grateful for Jobs’s faith in him, felt that
Pixar was the only place where he could create a new world of computer-generated
animation. He told Catmull, “I can go to Disney and be a director, or I can stay here
and make history.” So Disney began talking about making a production deal with Pixar.
“Lasseter’s shorts were really breathtaking both in storytelling and in the use of technology,”
recalled Katzenberg. “I tried so hard to get him to Disney, but he was loyal to Steve and Pixar.
So if you can’t beat them, join them. We decided to look for ways we could join up with
Pixar and have them make a film about toys for us.”
By this point Jobs had poured close to $50 million of his own money into Pixar—more than
half of what he had pocketed when he cashed out of Apple—and he was still losing money
at NeXT. He was hard-nosed about it; he forced all Pixar employees to give up their options
as part of his agreement to add another round of personal funding in 1991. But he was also
a romantic in his love for what artistry and technology could do together. His belief that
ordinary consumers would love to do 3-D modeling on Pixar software turned out to be
wrong, but that was soon replaced by an instinct that turned out to be right: that
combining great art and digital technology would transform animated films more than
anything had since 1937, when Walt Disney had given life to Snow White.