Valve co-founder Gabe Newell and Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson appeared on Forbes’ annual list of the richest people on Earth for 2015. By coincidence, both tied for the 1,415th spot on the list, with personal fortunes totaling roughly $1.3 billion each. It pays to be nerdy, kids.
Newell, a Harvard drop-out, worked at Microsoft for 13 years before founding Valve in 1996 and altering the PC gaming landscape forever by releasing Steam in 2003. He first graced Forbes’ billionaire list in 2012, when he actually ranked higher at 854 with $1.5 billion.
This is Swedish programmer Notch’s debut on the list, which Forbes predicted in late 2014, following Mojang’s acquisition by Microsoft. Notch has always been pointedly modest about his success from Minecraft, explaining to Reddit in 2012 that he was still somewhat perplexed by being suddenly wealthy.
It’s weird as f–k. I grew up in a relatively poor family, but once I got a decent job, I never really had to worry about money. My hobbies were playing games and programming, so there wasn’t any real drain. I could eat out when I wanted to, and go to the movies without having to save up for it. I still had to save up for trips and to be able to buy computers or consoles, but that just felt normal. Now, all of the sudden, as a result of how modern society works, I managed to somehow earn a s–t-ton of money. I still like playing games and programming, and once I had the latest computer and consoles, there really isn’t much more to spend the money on than traveling. I might eventually get a driver’s license so I can buy a car. I think the right way to use money like this is to set a decent portion aside to make sure my family is comfortable, spend some on living out your dreams, and then try to put the rest towards making society a better place. For me, this includes charities that help children, and charities that help promote freedoms I think are vital in the coming dozens of years, such as the EFF.
A few more years of immense success, capped off by the Microsoft sale, seems to have slightly dulled that sense of modesty, as a substantial portion of Notch’s new-found fortune went right into a $70 million Los Angeles mansion that he purchased with cash. He reportedly even out-bid Jay Z and Beyonce for the house, potentially running him afoul of the Illuminati. The Minecraft community was, of course, quick to respond by recreating the mansion in Notch’s famous voxels.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates reclaimed the top spot this year with an imposing $79.2 billion. The upper echelons of the list are populated by billionaire mainstays like Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, the Waltons, and the Koch brothers.