Steve Jobs vs. Ross Perot Revisited

In an earlier post, I speculated that Steve Jobs joining the Disney board of directors had a few parallels to Ross Perot’s time at General Motors. Both joined the board of a much larger firm as big shareholders following the acquisition of their company. Both have a strong maverick streak, and neither has been reticent to say exactly what he thinks. Perot, of course, was eventually bought out by GM when he became too much of an irritant. Now, a new BusinessWeek article, Steve Jobs’ Magic Kingdom, suggests another alternative: rather than getting rejected like a xeno-transplant, there’s some chance that Jobs could end up as Head Mousketeer. While not considering it highly probable, BusinessWeek suggests that Jobs could, eventually, take over as chairman or even CEO. They point to his assurances that he didn’t want CEO Gil Amelio’s job at Apple not long before he took over as CEO.

To be sure, a CEO role at Disney might engender some conflicts with his role at Apple. No doubt there’s a strong emotional tie to Apple that Jobs would be reluctant to relinquish. Nevertheless, he grew Apple to prominence once, and saved it from ruin a few times. It’s certainly possible that now that Jobs has hit the half-century mark, he might be looking for the next stage in his life and career. If I were Disney CEO Robert Iger, I’d stay in friendly contact with the top headhunting firms… you never know when you’ll need a good contact or two.

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