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Mojang founder puts sanity first in US$2.5 billion Minecraft sale to Microsoft

This article is more than 12 months old

Markus Persson has decided he has had enough.

In an outpouring that had to be reposted after crashing his server on Monday, Persson, who founded the game Minecraft through his company Mojang, told his millions of fans that he never meant for his product to become such a big hit and change the gaming industry.

Now he’s set to walk away with his majority share of a “smooth $2.5 billion (S$3.1 billion)” after selling Mojang to Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft.

“I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me,” Persson, who also goes by the nickname Notch, wrote.

Photo: Notch 

Persson’s post illustrates the unintended consequences that sometimes come with startup success.

The Swede, who’s gained almost 1.8 million Twitter followers and the admiration of gamers worldwide after creating Minecraft in 2009, had used his fame to pour scorn on companies from Facebook to Electronic Arts while touting the values of being “indie.”

Yet he increasingly found himself dealing with critics of his own as the success of Minecraft – a pixelated online world where users build structures – flourished.

Now Persson plans to leave Mojang and return to game-developing competitions and small Web experiments.

Nerdy computer programmer, not CEO

He said today that if he comes close to something that starts to gain traction, he’ll “probably abandon it immediately.”

Microsoft’s deal to buy Stockholm-based Mojang is projected to close late this year.

“Thank you for turning Minecraft into what it has become, but there are too many of you, and I can’t be responsible for something this big,” Persson’s note said, shortly after Microsoft announced the acquisition. “It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.”

Persson, who handed over the main Minecraft developer duties to colleague Jens Bergensten in 2012 to focus on other projects, is an active Twitter user, posting random photos of a ratty sock and a record turntable.  - Washington Post ​

“I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.”  - Persson