How Markus Persson built, and then sold Minecraft to Microsoft

Posted in:

Minecraft is known as a hit game with over 100 million downloads that lets you build what ever you want. What some may not know though is the story of how Minecraft was acquired by Microsoft. As cliché as it sounds, the sale all started with a tweet that was heard around the world, but later ended in a million dollar deal:

Markus Persson, who at one point owned 71% of Mojang (the company behind Minecraft) crafted a half joke tweet back in 2014.  At the time of the tweet, Minecraft users were upset that week about the company’s decision to start enforcing its End User License Agreement.

After the tweet, Mojang CEO Carl Manneh’s phone started ringing off the hook.  On the other end of the phone was a Microsoft executive who wanted to know if Persson was serious.  Offers from Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard and others soon came in as well, but Mojang ruled out a number of potential buyers.

Microsoft, however, was to their liking, and Manneh had select sales terms.  The three founders no longer wanted to be attached to the company, and they wanted no layoffs.  Xbox Chief Phil Spencer was the only person from Microsoft who dealt with Manneh, and according a rare interview of Persson with Forbes, CEO Sata Nadella only called twice to forward the talks.

Persson though kept the deal quiet as it was happening, and wrote a blog post with the language known as Dart. While the post has since been removed, he mentioned rebuilding the earliest version of the classic shooter game Doom. Doom, though, was used as a secret code word for the company’s name Mojang. Hidden in the post were clues about the impending sale.

The story then comes to and end when on Sept. 15 Microsoft  finally announced it would pay $2.5 billion, in cash, to acquire Mojang.  Since then, Microsoft has taken Minecraft to new levels, using it in classrooms, and getting it to over 22 million PC sales.  Verizon even managed to design a fully functional in game mobile phone in Minecraft.

In light of the Microsoft purchase, Persson has been spending his money, including on a $70 million Beverly Hills mega mansion, and not doing much work.  Asides from that, Persson and Mojang cofounder Jakob Porsér have started a company called Rubberbrain in case they think of a new game idea.

< Previous

Microsoft launches Power BI Gateway

Satya Nadella will come to the DotNet Spain Conference as special guest

Next >