Report: Steve Jobs signed off on Pixar deal with backdated options for Lasseter

“The Securities and Exchange Commission is widening its investigation into Steve Jobs’s handling of stock option grants after it emerged that the Apple chief executive had signed an options package for a Pixar ally during his time running the film company,” Tom Bawden reports for The Times.

Bawden reports, “Mr Jobs, who headed Pixar for 15 years until last May — as well as running Apple for much of the time — in 2001 signed off on a particularly well-timed options grant for John Lasseter, director of hit films such as Toy Story and A Bug’s Life, according to SEC filings.”

“By allegedly backdating the day on which Mr Lasseter was granted the option to buy 1 million Pixar shares by more than three months to December 6, 2000, their lowest point in the previous year, the potential pay-out was significantly increased, the filings show,” Bawden reports.

Bawden reports, “By the close of trading on March 20, 2001, the day before the contract was signed, Pixar’s shares had climbed 24 per cent, increasing Mr Lasseter’s potential profit by $6.4 million.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Thorin” for the heads up.]

SeekingAlpha reports, “Walt Disney Co., Pixar’s current owner, is conducting an internal probe into its options dating practices, and ‘people familiar with the matter’ say federal prosecutors are awaiting its conclusion. Jobs sits on Disney’s board and is its biggest shareholder. The SEC is already investigating Jobs’s role in options backdating at Apple; an internal probe recently cleared him of wrongdoing, but said he ‘was aware or recommended the selection of some favorable grant dates.'”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Again, a reminder that backdating itself is not illegal, but backdated grants must be disclosed to shareholders and accounted for correctly. The disclosure and accounting practices are the issues in both the Pixar and Apple investigations.

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  1. I think any attempt to predict how Mr. Jobs will fare as a result of the investigations is FUD. We do not know what went on and whether there were or were not irregularities in disclosure and accounting requirements. So whether you say Jobs is fine or Jobs is going down, it’s all idle speculation. I’ll bide my time and withhold judgement until the process reaches the point where the authorities release their conclusions. Then we’ll have something to argue with (and I expect the fur to fly).

  2. I think these Jobs/options things are a set up. He’s not that driven by money so he doesn’t pay much attention subsequently The Street can’t exert much influence over Jobs and his business. With the rise of Apple Wall Street stands a serious risk of losing all those MS monopoly/extortion profits.

    Steve is a victim of not paying respect to Wall Street so they will do almost anything to get him. I am sure when it comes to accounting he would leave it to the accountants and take their advice, he hired what he thought were the best guys – best in terms of accountancy is a very tricky one to call.

    Accountants are really insidious, they deflect business managers attention away from making great products that people want to buy. They have plenty of dubious ideas about how to maximize their interpretation of the rules and the rules change on a regular basis.

    When computing became mass market and spreadsheets were invented I was really looking forward to the end of accountants as we know them. All they do is maths and apply a few rules, their jobs should have been completely eliminated because computers do these tasks very successfully. Instead accountants have more power and take an even bigger slice of world wealth. Something is really wrong with this picture.

  3. Steve Jobs made that point repeatedly around the launch of the iTMS, And the concept is a good one. However, backdating stock options to the most favorable date, legal or not, is nothing more than stealing from shareholders and investors. The difference in value that adjusting the dates creates comes out of their pocket.

  4. I agree with Gandalf. Think about how many people and investment firms

    are tied to MS’s fortunes. Think of the power and influence Bill Gates and

    MS have. Apparently, the BBC is now joined at the hip with MS, which

    makes sense considering how they cover Apple. The corporate media

    definitely has its own agenda–see chearleading of invasion of Iraq prior

    to the war. MS has had direct ties to NBC (GE), the Washington Post, Slate.

    The media is doing its best to keep MS in the forefront while doing

    everthing possible to trash Steve Jobs and Apple. I do not trust anything

    that comes out of corporate, mainstream, bought-and-paid-for media.


  5. The powers that be can work to bring down a rising underdog through legal FUD. A must see movie about on this topic is George Lucus’ sleeper “Tucker, the Man and his Dream.”

    Jeff Bridges plays the role of the real-life Preston Tucker who, after WWII, tried to make a “4th car company,” competeing with the Big Three in Detroit through innovation (unheard of things like seat belts and other saftey features). At first the press heralded the car as the future and the as yet unfinished Tucker car was the darling of the media. The Feds. prompted by a powerful Michigan senator (on the dole of the big 3), conducted an investigation of stock fraud that had no basis. The investigation soured the public on the product. I won’t give away the ending, but it is very applicable to what is happening to Jobs now.

  6. People keep focusing on the fact that backdating stock options making the awarded executive more money, as if that’s immoral or as if that even means anything. When Steve Jobs was giving John Lasseter a lot of money for his service, he gave it in such a way that it was even MORE! Wow. Oooh. Aaah. Who cares? There is nothing wrong with giving someone a stock option in such a way that it is intentionally advantageous regarding price. You are compensating this person! You are SUPPOSED to be giving them money.

    The only problem with backdating is not actually the extra money made or the extra advantage leveraged. The problem is in a nutshell, reporting requirements. Currently the reporting requirements are that stock options have to be reported within a few days, so by backdating a stock option award MORE than a few days, it becomes physically impossible to comply with this rule. The idea is that the shareholders deserve transparency: NOT that it is wrong to try to grant executives stocks at an advantageous time — BECAUSE THIS IS PERFECTLY LEGAL. If you can use your insider information as CEO to grant an employeee stock options at a price that you KNOW will be its lowest point (because you know about upcoming product announcements, et cetera), there is NOTHING ILLEGAL about seeking, granting, or accepting this kind of advantage. As long as it is reported.


    But everybody keeps talking about the financial advantage gained as if we should be angry. THIS IS COMPENSATION IT IS SUPPOSED TO CONFER A FREAKIN’ FINANCIAL ADVANTAGE. So the result is that this sounds to everybody like something close to embezzlement, when really all it is is missing paperwork.

    The press pretty much universally sucks and I’ve decided that I’m going to live in a cocoon.

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