Microsoft dropped a load of cash on Mojang when they purchased the company and their games. More specifically, they were after Minecraft and all the goods its name produces. That, to Microsoft, was worth $2.5 billion.
With massive acquisitions like this one, it’s not uncommon for the purchasing company to offer the staff of the company being purchased a sort of retention bonus. “Stay with us for six months and you’ll receive $100,000,” for instance.
Microsoft wanted the Mojang team to stay after the purchase. Some did, others didn’t. The details of the acquisition are starting to boil up thanks to a book’s publication.
Wired has posted an excerpt from Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus “Notch” Persson and the Game that Changed Everything by former Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson. That excerpt contains a bit about what Microsoft offered to retain Mojang’s staff.
In all likelihood, Microsoft was well aware of how difficult it would be to retain the trust and loyalty of Mojang’s staff. Making sure people kept quiet was one thing. More importantly, both companies had to ensure that everyone didn’t simply hand in their notice and leave the moment the deal went through. The solution was to deploy the one thing this deal had plenty of—money. Everyone at Mojang was made the same offer: whoever stayed on board for at least six months after the sale would be rewarded with two million Swedish crowns, approximately three hundred thousand dollars, after taxes. A small fortune was being tendered as a peace offering, in other words. But for some, saying yes was far from a given.
The excerpt indicates that Mojang’s staff were generally unhappy about their base salaries. It suggests that the company’s three shareholders, Markus Persson, Carl Manneh and Jakob Porser, make all the money off of Minecraft while its employees simply collect salaries and meager bonuses.
Who knows? The excerpt paints a picture of frustration within Mojang’s ranks, though the company managed to hold almost all of its employees until its sale.
The whole thing is really interesting and worth a read if you have the time. I’m sure Notch tells a very different story, but we’ll have to wait for his book to learn about it.