Gabe Newell is a video game developer and founder of the Valve corporation.
After dropping out of Harvard university, he worked for Microsoft as a producer for early versions of Windows before leaving to join the game developer id, where worked on Quake.
He and another Microsoft millionaire, Mike Harrington, left Id to found Valve in 1996, using their Microsoft stock options to fund the development of the hit video game Half-life. The game went on to become one of the most loved games in history. This, along with subsequent hits such as Portal, Team Fortress and the first person shooter Counterstrike have elevated Newell to be a person of great influence and popularity among gamers.
Half-life’s success allowed the studio to flourish and produce more games. During the development of the sequel, Half-life 2, Newell became dissatisfied in the distribution system and founded the Steam network, a method for downloading and updating games over the internet. Originally just for games Valve developed, Steam has been expanded to incorporate titles from other publishes and independent developers. One key to its success has been to reverse the typical revenue model, where as little as 15% of the price makes its way back to the developer. Games sold on steam pay the bulk of their revenue back to the company that made it.
He has been outspoken about many aspects of the gaming industry, including the Playstation 3, which he called ‘A horrible disaster’ and ‘a waste of everybody’s time’. He later recanted his words, going on to release Portal on the Playstation and appear at Sony events.
He famously stated the ‘piracy is a service problem’, asserting that if companies gave their customers what they wanted, they would happily pay for it.
Going forward, Newell and Valve plan to expand their empire into Operating systems and hardware. Steam Boxes (also called Steam Machines) that will connect directly to TV and allow people to play their Steam game collection without a traditional windows PC (much like a console)
Forbes estimates Newell’s net worth $1.5 billion. He lives and works in Washington state.