Tuesday Buzz: When Leading Means Getting Out of the Way

Leadership lessons from the $2.5 billion sale of Minecraft's parent company. Really. Also: a device that gives the tip jar a needed upgrade.

For some people, success isn’t monetary or even due to notoriety. Sometimes, success means an opportunity to live on your own terms.

Such is the story of Markus Persson, aka Notch, the developer of the massively popular world-building game Minecraft. On Monday, his company, Mojang, announced that it had been sold to Microsoft for an eye-popping $2.5 billion. But Persson, a hobbyist developer who had created a true phenomenon almost by accident, admitted that he had sold the game not because of the money but because he had decided his game—as well as his public image among gamers—had outgrown his own modest life.

“I’ve become a symbol,” he wrote in a goodbye letter after the sale. “I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.”

Instead, he plans to create small, experimental games, rather than represent the game that became the very definition of a sleeper hit.

For the corporate raiders of the world, Persson’s passion for small projects over the huge thing he made sounds counterintuitive, maybe even crazy. But sometimes the best form of leadership is the kind where you realize you’re a builder, not a leader—and that’s OK to admit.

Also, it helps that Persson is effectively a billionaire now at age 35. Not bad.

Here’s a Tip

The tip jar is a mainstay of coffee shops and retail outlets, and it’s often used expressly for digging up donations. But it has a problem—in most cases, it only supports cash. Fortunately, startup DipJar has been on the case, with its bucket designed specifically to allow people to make a small plastic transaction.

As TechCrunch reports, the company has raised a fresh round of funding to help finance the concept, which was inspired by—you guessed it—a guy who felt bad that he had only plastic on him at his local coffee shop.

The effort’s even gotten pickup from the nonprofit space. Last month, the Central Park Conservancy used the device during a film festival, and now it plans to expand its usage to other places.

Looks like loose change is starting to get a little less loose.

Other Links of Note

How not to market a new album: U2’s new record, Songs of Innocence, has become such a scourge of iPhones and iPads everywhere that Apple, which gave the record away for free last week, is offering a way for users to remove the free album from their devices.

Want to be like social media pro and all-around nice guy Chris Brogan? Read this interview on CMS Wire and pick up a few tips.

New to the gig? If you’re an outsider leading a new team, follow these tips from Inc.com to help get a handle on the changed landscape.

"Minecraft" developer Marcus "Notch" Persson, who sold his company this week. (photo via officialgdc/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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