How Markus “Notch” Persson Flipped a Little Game Called Minecraft to Microsoft for $2.5 billion

The Downward Spiral

Feeling confident and rehabilitated, it was at this point that the family decided to leave the remote town of Edsbyn and move back to Stockholm.

That was when the demons that were haunting Notch’s father attacked in full force and sent him spiraling back into alcohol and drug addiction.

Notch had a lot of trouble making friends at school. He was too shy and his family was falling apart at home. His parents divorced when he was just 12 years old. The increasingly withdrawn young man fell down his own spiral of obsession— with the family computer.

His mother has recounted to the press how Notch used to pretend to have stomach aches so he could skip school and spend hours on the computer…

Notch’s Rise From the Ashes and His Secret to Success

In one sentence, Notch was able to succeed at such a high level because he had a burning passion for creative expression in a field that requires a high degree of technical skill.

As Notch himself says about his penchant for tinkering and building:

“Turns out, what I love doing is making games. Not hyping games or trying to sell a lot of copies. I just want to experiment and develop and think and tinker and tweak”. -Markus “Notch” Persson

It’s a mindset he cultivated from early on in life. It’s not just that Notch is good with computers, it’s that he exemplifies a mindset of curiosity, experimentation, that led to action— taking things apart and putting them back together to understand how they work:

“I remember disassembling and putting an old analog alarm clock together. It was a lot of fun figuring out why it still worked with that one spring missing.” -Markus “Notch” Persson

The fact is that as Notch began developing Minecraft into a thunderous global phenomenon, he was in a state of pure flow.

He wasn’t trying to create the next big thing in video gaming— the biggest thing in video gaming— he was being moved by his muses to create something for the joy and beauty of it, to create something that he loved:

“I think the only way I could make something fun and big is if I don’t expect it to be.” -Markus “Notch” Persson

That is as pure a description of the state of “flow” as has ever been expressed. How does someone enter into a state of flow? The answer is right above. A burning passion for creative expression in some kind of specialized, technical competency puts the human spirt in a state of flow.

To profit from it on the level that Notch has requires a savvy sense of business acumen. Notch tries to downplay his business savvy and entrepreneurial credentials in statements like this to the press:

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

But we know better than to believe that Notch lacks the entrepreneurial spirit that helped him to profit so lucratively from the marvelous game he created. He reveals his fundamental and incisive understanding of business principles when he makes statements like this:

“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.” -Markus “Notch” Persson

Notch could see the unparalleled, lucrative opportunity in the new economics of low production and distribution costs in the digital marketplace, and that doesn’t just apply to video games either. It applies to the entire exponentially expanding world of digital content and tools.