Disney/Pixar Deal: $6 Billion for Lasseter

Cite this Article
Bill Sjostrom, Disney/Pixar Deal: $6 Billion for Lasseter, Truth on the Market (January 30, 2006), https://truthonthemarket.com/2006/01/30/disneypixar-deal-6-billion-for-lasseter/

The Slate has an interesting take on the Disney/Pixar deal.  In an article entitled “The $6 Billion Man,” Edward Jay Epstein asserts that Disney is essentially paying $6 billion to obtain the services of John Lasseter, Pixar’s creative guru.  Lasseter’s salary last year was about $2.8 million, and the value of his Pixar shares and options appreciated about $50 million, so he did pretty well.  If, however, someone was paying $6 billion for my contract, I’d ask for a raise or maybe hire Drew Rosenhaus to get me a new contract.Â

On an unrelated note, Disney apparently has a computer-animation unit, cleverly code named Pixaren’t, formed for the purpose of making sequels to Pixar movies without Pixar involvement.

[See below the fold for an excerpt from Pixar’s latest proxy statement describing Lasseter’s employment agreement which runs through 2011.]

In March 2001, Pixar entered into an employment agreement with John Lasseter (the “Employment Agreement�), which has a term of 10 years. The Employment Agreement supersedes Pixar’s prior employment agreement with Mr. Lasseter, which was entered into in February 1997. Pursuant to the Employment Agreement, Mr. Lasseter received a signing bonus of $5,000,000, of which $60,000 was paid to a third party. The Employment Agreement provided for an initial annual salary of $2,500,000 with 5% annual increases. In connection with the Employment Agreement, Mr. Lasseter was previously granted an option to purchase 2,000,000 shares of Pixar Common Stock at the fair market value on the date of such grant. The option vests on an equal monthly basis over the ten-year term of the agreement, except for options that vest on the last month will vest on the penultimate month of this ten-year period. Under the Employment Agreement, Mr. Lasseter will direct three Feature Films (a Feature Film is defined as a feature-length animated motion picture) and he has the option to direct certain sequels to Feature Films he has directed if Pixar elects to produce such sequels within 12 years of the initial release of the applicable Feature Film. In addition, at Pixar’s request, Mr. Lasseter will provide writing services and supervisory services to create stories, treatments and screenplays for Feature Films, and Mr. Lasseter will also provide executive producing services on Feature Films, made-for-home videos and short-subject motion pictures that Mr. Lasseter does not direct. During the term of the Employment Agreement, Mr. Lasseter is prohibited from accepting other employment and from becoming financially interested or associated with any entity engaged in a related or competitive business. Pixar can terminate the Employment Agreement at any time for any reason. If Pixar terminates Mr. Lasseter’s employment without cause, Pixar must (1) pay an amount equal to 75% of the balance of the salary Mr. Lasseter would have earned through the remainder of the term of the Employment Agreement and (2) accelerate the unvested portion of Mr. Lasseter’s option so that the option would be exercisable in full. In addition, Mr. Lasseter would be able to accept employment with any third party. In the event of a “change of control,� as defined in the Employment Agreement, Pixar must accelerate the unvested portion of Mr. Lasseter’s option so that the option would be exercisable in full, and Pixar may be required to pay Mr. Lasseter certain payments described in the Employment Agreement.