Jobs was very possessive about control of the whiteboard during

Jobs was very possessive about control of the whiteboard during a meeting,

so the burly Smith pushed past him and started writing on it. “You can’t do that!” Jobs shouted.

“What?” responded Smith, “I can’t write on your whiteboard? Bullshit.” At that point Jobs stormed out.


Smith eventually resigned to form a new company to make software for digital drawing

and image editing. Jobs refused him permission to use some code he had created while

at Pixar, which further inflamed their enmity. “Alvy eventually got what he needed,” said

Catmull, “but he was very stressed for a year and developed a lung infection.” In the end

it worked out well enough; Microsoft eventually bought Smith’s company, giving him the

distinction of being a founder of one company that was sold to Jobs and another that was sold to Gates.

Ornery in the best of times, Jobs became particularly so when it became clear that all three

Pixar endeavors—hardware, software, and animated content—were losing money. “I’d get

these plans, and in the end I kept having to put in more money,” he recalled. He would rail,

but then write the check. Having been ousted at Apple and flailing at NeXT, he couldn’t afford a third strike.

To stem the losses, he ordered a round of deep layoffs, which he executed with his typical empathy

deficiency. As Pam Kerwin put it, he had “neither the emotional nor financial runway to be decent

to people he was letting go.” Jobs insisted that the firings be done immediately, with no severance

pay. Kerwin took Jobs on a walk around the parking lot and begged that the employees be given

at least two weeks notice. “Okay,” he shot back, “but the notice is retroactive from two weeks ago.”

Catmull was in Moscow, and Kerwin put in frantic calls to him. When he returned, he was


able to institute a

meager severance

plan and calm things

down just a bit.

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