conflict.jpg
By Mark Bryan

Has anyone ever seriously questioned why one guy can be chief executive of two major companies that potentially have conflicting interests? Steve Jobs is CEO of both Apple and Pixar. And he has had a friction-filled relationship (free registration) with Disney in the past, and yet that relationship affects both Apple’s iPod and Pixar. And now, we see that that he is having to recuse himself from all sorts of policy decisions at Apple and Pixar, as concerning the possible Disney-Pixar merger and other things.

In the Merc’s recent story about the possible sale of Pixar to Disney, our colleague John Boudreau quotes Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies:

Jobs, as part-owner of Disney, could make the company’s vast inventory of movies available to Apple and iTunes. But “the pitfall is if he becomes a Disney insider, he gives up Apple’s position of neutrality,” Bajarin said. “Apple has to remain neutral. He has to be able to attract content for iTunes from any and everybody. It might be tougher to cut deals with other studios, who might see him in a competitor’s role.”

All you have to do to avoid all this mess is appoint another CEO at either Apple or Pixar, and move Jobs to Chairman. But you think that will happen? No way. He is indeed a genius who will get away with it.