Microsoft bought Mojang, the studio behind Minecraft, back in September. But the $2.5 billion acquisition originated in discussions that began months earlier, kicked off by one exasperated tweet from Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson, according to an in-depth profile of the developer by Forbes.
In mid-June 2014, Mojang announced its intention to start enforcing a clause in Minecraft‘s end-user license agreement stipulating that players could not charge for mods or items that affect gameplay. The policy shift drew the ire of the Minecraft community — anger that was largely directed at Persson, the game’s public face.
“Anyone want to buy my share of Mojang so I can move on with my life?” Persson tweeted on June 17. “Getting hate for trying to do the right thing is not my gig.”
Forbes reports that Carl Manneh, then the CEO of Mojang, saw the tweet while at home, and got a call from Microsoft within 30 seconds. An executive at the company wanted to know if Notch was serious. Manneh heard from Electronic Arts, Activision and others within the next week; discussions with Activision didn’t work out, and Persson wouldn’t say what happened with EA.
Microsoft’s main reason for pursuing the acquisition, according to Forbes, was a financial one: avoiding taxes. The company was “sitting on” an overseas cash reserve of $93 billion that it couldn’t bring home to the U.S. without giving the man his cut. Microsoft announced the purchase Sept. 15, and the deal closed in early November.
Persson doesn’t have a particularly biting retort to people who characterize him as a sellout. In a blog post written the day of the deal’s announcement, he said, “It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.”
Asked by Forbes about his earlier statements that he wouldn’t sell to a tech giant like Microsoft, Persson — who, with a 71 percent stake in Mojang at the time of the sale, made nearly $1.78 billion in cash from the deal — said he had nothing to apologize for.
“You have to be responsible for what you said, of course,” Persson told Forbes, “but I don’t really feel a lot of shame for saying something that I’ve changed my mind about.”
For more, check out the full piece at Forbes.