The story of Microsoft and Minecraft developer Mojang's $2.5 billion deal goes to show that it really doesn't pay to underestimate the reach of social media. It turns out the Redmond, Wash. tech giant snapped up the Swedish game maker last fall thanks to just one tweet by founder and indie-gaming icon Markus "Notch" Persson.
If you don't play Minecraft, it's likely you know someone who does. The wildly successful and award-winning game is fairly straightforward: players break blocks, build things together and occasionally battle monsters. As of last summer, ahead of Microsoft's big buy, the company had sold about 54 million copies across all available platforms (computer, console and mobile), and it has earned more than $700 million since its release in 2009.
When the buzzed-about deal went through in September, it was scrutinized by gamers and analysts alike. While many of Mojang's 47-person staff went to work at Microsoft, Persson opted to pursue other opportunities. (Mojang's other co-founder Jakob Porser along with CEO Carl Manneh also left the company). But in a recent interview with Forbes about what he's been up to the last few months, the largely press-shy Persson (though his online alter ego Notch was prolific and polarizing) explained how it all went down.
In June of 2014, laid up with a cold and feeling frustrated and burned out from fielding user comments, Persson sent out this tweet:
Anyone want to buy my share of Mojang so I can move on with my life? Getting hate for trying to do the right thing is not my gig.— Markus Persson (@notch) June 17, 2014
Manneh got a call from Microsoft moments later and promptly began receiving calls from other major corporations, like Electronic Arts (of whose policies Persson isn't the biggest fan). Ultimately the deal was brokered with Microsoft, leaving the staff with job security and leadership to exit stage left. And just like that, one tweet or post can change the course of your business entirely.