When Markus Persson, or “Notch,” as he’s known in the gaming community, created Minecraft in 2009, he had no idea how drastically it would change his life.
The game, which allows players to build and interact with an easy-to-use, Lego-like digital environment, has been downloaded more than 100 million times.
“Well, on one hand I don’t mind having loads of money at all,” he said in a Reddit AMA in 2013. “On the other, it’s a bit strange that I can create something once and keep getting paid over and over and over for it. If you build a car, you can only sell it once. If you paint a fence, you only get paid for it once. If you create a piece of software that’s essentially free to reproduce, you can keep getting paid over and over perpetually.”
Notch leads a lifestyle to match his newfound wealth, one that’s filled with private jets, EDM concerts, and multimillion-dollar mansions.
Persson was born on June 1, 1979 in Edsbyn, a rural town north of Stockholm. He taught himself to code and was hired as a programmer at a web-design company when he was just 18.
Even before it was released as a full game, Minecraft was a huge hit. In September 2010, Persson and best friend Jakob Porser founded a video game company they called Mojang, to help them develop Minecraft and other games. Carl Menneh was brought on as CEO.
Minecraft has legions of devoted fans all over the world. As of February 2014, more than 100 million people had registered to play the original PC game, and 14.3 million people had made the switch to paid accounts.
Mojang started hosting an annual convention for Minecraft players in 2010. Dubbed 'Minecon,' the event grew from about 50 players to more than 7,500 fans in 2013. Though Minecon was called off in 2014, it's expected to return this year.
The company's swanky Stockholm offices include plush leather couches, a pool table, pinball machine, and oil paintings of most of the 40 employees. In his portrait, Persson is seen wearing a suit and fedora and posing next to a globe.
Persson, who's rarely seen without his trademark fedora, handed over control of Minecraft to Jens Borgensten in 2011. He has always been more concerned with the programming of the game rather than the business aspects of running the company. He told the New Yorker, 'I've never run a company before and I don't want to feel like a boss. I just want to turn up and do my work.'
In September 2014, Microsoft paid a whopping $2.5 billion to acquire Mojang. Suddenly Persson was a billionaire.
Persson departed Mojang after the Microsoft acquisition, but he will still be around to consult on the design of the game.
Persson is beloved for both his work and his accessibility to fans. He's constantly interacting with gamers on Twitter and even shared this photo of a bouquet he received from a fan.
Just a few months after the Microsoft purchase, Persson paid a record-breaking $70 million for this 23,000-square foot mansion in Beverly Hills. He reportedly outbid Beyonce and Jay-Z to buy the home.
And this house is absolutely insane, featuring such amenities as an 18-seat home theatre, $5,000 toilets, 16-car garage, and an enormous bar stocked with Dom Perignon.
He seems to be enjoying life in his new home. Shortly after news of the blockbuster purchase broke, he tweeted this photo of him lounging by an enormous wall of candy.
A few weeks later, he threw a party to match the extravagant price, complete with celebrities, electronic music, Transformers, and fancy cars. Zedd, Selena Gomez, and Dillon Francis were among those in attendance.
Persson's parties are legendary -- he's a huge EDM fan and often hosts bashes with performances from famous DJs like Avicii, Deadmau5, and Skrillex. 'It's a very stupid way to spend money,' he told Rolling Stone. 'But why not? People say, 'You should invest it.' So I can get more money to put in a pile? At least if you spend it, it goes back and does something, maybe.'
Last June, Persson paid $46,300 for a rare vinyl copy of an unreleased album by electronic musician Aphex Twin. The album had been released thanks to a Kickstarter campaign started by an Aphex Twin fan named James Thomas. A portion of the money Persson paid for the vinyl will go to charity. '(Persson)'s a really cool guy, and didn't even consider the charity aspect when buying it (but was really happy to hear that half is going to charity) -- he's been an Aphex fan since he was young,' Thomas wrote.
When it comes to partying, private jet is Persson's preffered mode of transportation. In 2013, he took the whole staff on a bender to Monaco, where they were photographed driving in Ferraris and partying on a yacht.
He also owns the most expensive apartment in Stockholm, which he paid nearly $4 million for in June 2014. It's located in the city's fashionable Östermalm neighbourhood.
But Persson cares about charitable causes, too -- he's donated thousands to protecting freedom of speech on the Internet, including a $250,000 donation to the Electronic Frontier Foundation in 2012. In 2011, he gave the $3 million he earned in dividends back to Mojang employees.
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