Billionaire who sold Minecraft to Microsoft is sad and lonely
Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.
Being rich is wonderful.
At least that’s the assumption the whole world seems to make.
The wealthy are today’s so-called rock stars, even though the music that emerges from their mouths can sometimes feel like a dirge played on a flute slipped up someone’s nose.
This is especially true of the tech world, where untold billions have descended on young, sometimes socially awkward, nerdy types.
Markus “Notch” Persson is one of those new billionaires. The 36-year-old founded Mojang, created Minecraft and sold it to Microsoft for $2.5 billion.
He bought himself a $70 million mansion in Beverly Hills, supposedly outbidding Jay Z and Beyonce.
After completing the Microsoft deal, he didn’t join Redmond’s merry band. Instead, he started a new life. He’s wondering now if it’s a better one.
In a series of tweets posted on Saturday, Persson exposed his feelings. Raw and deeply melancholy, they reveal that money truly isn’t everything — at least for him.
He began: “The problem with getting everything is you run out of reasons to keep trying, and human interaction becomes impossible due to imbalance.”
It depends on how you define everything. For many people, Persson might seem like the man with everything. Instead, he bemoans the difficulty of having relationships.
He wrote: “Hanging out in ibiza with a bunch of friends and partying with famous people, able to do whatever I want, and I’ve never felt more isolated.”
Freedom can be very difficult to live with. You can do anything you like. But what is it you want to do? And with whom? And what do they think of you now that you’re extremely wealthy?
Persson explained: “In sweden, I will sit around and wait for my friends with jobs and families to have time to do shit, watching my reflection in the monitor.”
He added: “Found a great girl, but she’s afraid of me and my life style and went with a normal person instead.”
I’m not sure normal people actually exist, but imbalance is now a prevalent concept in a world where inequality is starker than it has been for some years.
Persson complained that in selling Mojang, he made sure the employees were taken care of, but “they all hate me now.”
Why not, though, aim for higher things? Why not commit to philanthropy? Persson said: “I would Musk and try to save the world, but that just exposes me to the same type of [explitive] that made me sell minecraft again.”
Having lived in several countries, it’s always struck me that if you can find 10 people you really like, you can build a pleasant life anywhere. It’s not always easy to find those ten people. Persson, now removed from life’s usual exigencies, seems to be lacking anyone with whom he can be his own normal self.
He said he’s taken advice from others in his position: “People who made sudden success are telling me this is normal and will pass. That’s good to know! I guess I’ll take a shower then!”
There will be those who have no sympathy with him. They’ll tell him to get a life, even though he seems to already have — by some measures — a very nice one. Some, though, might feel sympathy with the idea that all the money in the world doesn’t actually buy anything other than things and more things.
Twenty-four hours after his tweets, Persson added some more context: “I really appreciate all the offers to hang and talk and all. As an introvert, new friends is hard to do even when fine, but it means a lot!”
He also explained that his series of tweets came out of genuine human sadness: “And just venting and not feeling like I had to hide made it feel a bit easier to cope with already.”
The tech world represents the possibility of enormous wealth gained quickly by those still in their relative youth.
In dangling that possibility, the tech world works harder and harder to take over more and more of its employees’ time. Even some tech CEOs admit this is true — for example, VMWare CEO Pat Gelsinger.
The only thing you can cling onto is your sense of priorities and your very sense of self. It isn’t easy. How strange, then, that even when you’ve made your fortune, things still don’t seem to follow the intentions of your inner algorithm.
When Persson’s mansion was originally listed, the realtor’s spiel described it as “an overwhelming sensory experience.” That doesn’t seem to describe Persson’s current life at all.