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Forbes Profiles Gabe Newell – “The Master of Online Gaming”

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Renowned business magazine Forbes first talked about Gabe in December 2005, when they praised Valve’s ability to capitalize on great community-created mods, giving them more publicity and getting the modders themselves some money. The article, titled “It’s a Mod, Mod Underworld” can be found here.

He was also part of their “Names You Need To Know” series, for an article released in November of last year. Predictably, we forgot to talk about it, but you can find it here.

Now, they’ve profiled him again.

Forbes Profiles Gabe Newell – “The Master of Online Gaming”

It reveals this:

Gabe Newell was going blind. The founder of videogame seller Valve suffers from Fuchs Dystrophy, a congenital disease that slowly destroys the cornea.

“I have dead-people eyes,” he said at the time. Double cornea transplants in 2006 and 2007 cured him and changed him utterly.

“The thing that snuck past my defenses was that not only could I see again but I could see better than I ever had before. I felt like I was in a fantasy story. It reminded me of how fast the future is coming at us and from what unexpected directions.”

Whoa! That’s horrible! Thank god he got it cured.

Time for some lovely statistics:

Valve’s site, Steam, has 30 million customers downloading PC games and add-ons. Only Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony have larger footprints in the gamer community. A milestone was reached last year when unit sales of PC games via download outstripped sales of boxed games in stores for the first time, according to research firm NPD Group.


Steam controls half to 70% of the $4 billion market for downloaded PC games, selling titles from bigger firms such as EA and Activision, as well as Valve’s own games. Its sci-fi shoot-’em-up thriller Half-Life 2 has sold 12 million copies since 2004 and is the highest-rated PC game on the Web site Metacritic.


The 250-person company releases no financials but, according to Newell, is “tremendously profitable.” Ed Barton, a games analyst at IHS Screen Digest, estimates that Valve’s revenue in 2010 was in the “high hundreds of millions of dollars.”


Valve announced last October that it was on track for its biggest year ever, with 200% year-over-year growth.

Newell says that, per employee, Valve is more profitable than Google and Apple. A potential buyer was rumored to have made an acquisition offer a few years back for the Steam piece only, but Newell supposedly refused to split the online storefront from Valve’s game-publishing arm. (Valve denies being made an actual offer, only confirming that it received interest in both Steam and Valve in the past.)

Interesting. Remember the rumors that were buzzing around back in September of 2008, that stated that Google was about to buy out Valve? Of course, they were just that – rumors, but remember that one month before that, in August of 2008, Doug said that Valve wouldn’t mind discussing any possible buy-outs.

Various sources value the company at $2 billion to $4 billion, which is reasonable, considering the $4 billion to $6 billion valuations being put on Zynga, the maker of Facebook game hits FarmVille and Cafe World. Newell owns more than half of the business, making the Harvard dropout a near billionaire, if not one already.

Hot damn! $4 billion? Yes, yes, I know: “Why make millions when we can make… billions?”

In any case, there’s a lot of other stuff in Forbes’ article. We strongly advise you to check it out to give it a read.

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