Gabe Logan Newell
November 3, 1962
|Alma mater||Harvard University (dropped out)|
|Known for||Co-founder and president, Valve|
Lisa Mennet Newell
(m. 1996, divorced)
Gabe Logan Newell (nicknamed Gaben, born November 3, 1962) is an American businessman and the co-founder and president of the video game developer and digital distribution company Valve.
Newell was educated at Davis Senior High School in Davis, California, and attended Harvard University in the early 1980s. He dropped out to join Microsoft, where he helped create the first iterations of the Windows operating system. Along with Mike Harrington, Newell left Microsoft in 1996 to found Valve; Harrington left Valve in 2000.
Newell led development of Valve's digital distribution service Steam, which launched in 2003 and controlled most of the market for downloaded PC games by 2011. He is one of the wealthiest people in the United States; in December 2021, Forbes estimated his net worth at US$3.9 billion.
Newell attended Davis Senior High School in Davis, California. He enrolled at Harvard University in 1980 but dropped out to work for Microsoft in 1983. He spent the next 13 years working there, serving as a producer of the first three releases of the Windows operating systems. He also led development on a port of the 1993 first-person shooter game Doom for Windows 95; the port is credited for helping make Windows a viable game platform. Newell later said he learned more during his first three months at Microsoft than he ever did at Harvard, which was one of the primary reasons why he dropped out.
Inspired by Michael Abrash, who left Microsoft to work on the game Quake at id Software, Newell and another employee, Mike Harrington, left Microsoft to found Valve in 1996. They funded development of the first Valve product, the first-person shooter Half-Life (1998), and its GoldSrc game engine. Harrington left in 2000, leaving Newell as the sole owner. During the production of Half-Life 2 (2004), Newell spent several months developing Steam, a digital distribution service for games. By 2011, Steam controlled 50–70% of the market for downloaded PC games and generated most of Valve's revenue. As of December 2021, Forbes estimated that Newell owned at least one quarter of Valve.
In 2007, Newell expressed his displeasure over developing software for game consoles. Newell said developing processes for the PlayStation 3 was "a waste of everybody's time" and "a disaster on many levels ... I'd say, even at this late date, they should just cancel it and do a do-over. Just say, 'This was a horrible disaster and we're sorry and we're going to stop selling this and stop trying to convince people to develop for it'." Nevertheless, at Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2010, Newell appeared on stage at Sony's keynote; while acknowledging his past outspoken comments on console development, he discussed the open nature of Sony's PlayStation 3 platform, and announced Portal 2 for the console, remarking that with Steamworks support it would be the best version for any console. Newell also criticized the Xbox Live service, referring to it as "a train wreck". He was also critical of Windows 8, calling it a "catastrophe" and a threat to the open nature of PC gaming.
In December 2010, Forbes named Newell as "A Name You Should Know", primarily for his work on Steam having partnerships with multiple major developers. In 2013, he was added to the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame. In March 2013, Newell received the BAFTA Fellowship award for his contributions to the video game industry. In October 2017, Forbes listed Newell among the 100 wealthiest people in the United States, with an estimated net worth of US$5.5 billion. In December 2021, Forbes estimated his net worth at US$3.9 billion.
Newell formerly suffered from Fuchs' dystrophy, a congenital disease which affects the cornea, but was cured by two cornea transplants in 2006 and 2007. He married Lisa Mennet on the same day he founded Valve with Harrington. They have two sons. The birth of his eldest son in the late 1990s served as inspiration for the final boss of Half-Life, as the couple considered childbirth to be the most frightening thing they could think of at the time. As of 2019, Newell and Mennet had divorced.
In 2011, Newell said his favorite video games included Super Mario 64, Doom, and a Burroughs mainframe version of Star Trek. Doom convinced him that games were the future of entertainment, and Super Mario 64 convinced him that games are a form of art. Newell is also a fan of the animated series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Newell also recorded a voice pack for Dota 2, a Valve-developed game, which referenced many previous statements and phrases from himself in a humorous manner.
Within the gaming community, Newell has the nickname Gaben, derived from his work email address. Newell said that he has tried to grow into his public image: "They hug me when they run into me. I'm not a hugging person, but that's what they want. I was with my kids the first time that happened in public, and my kids were pretty cool with it. But I wasn't. 'Dad, roll with it.' Even now, I'm learning from our customers."
In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Newell resided in New Zealand with a group of friends electing to stay in Auckland rather than returning to Seattle once airlines travel restrictions were eased. As an expression of gratitude for New Zealand's hospitality, Newell and others planned a free event, "We Love Aotearoa", with live performances from musical artists across New Zealand. This was accompanied by VR stands for Valve games such as Half-Life: Alyx and The Lab. The event was postponed from August to December due to a lockdown induced by a second wave of COVID-19 in the country. In October, Newell applied for permanent residency in New Zealand, but said he did not intend to take Valve offices with him. In 2021, he returned to Valve in Seattle.
If Your Birthday Is Today [November 3]: Video game entrepreneur Gabe Newell (1962) shares your birthday.