Gabe Newell

Gabe Logan Newell (born (1962-11-03)November 3, 1962), commonly known by his nickname Gaben (/ˈɡbˈɛn/), is an American computer programmer and businessman best known as the co-founder of the video game development and digital distribution company Valve. Born in Colorado, he attended Harvard University in the early 1980s, but dropped out and worked for Microsoft, where he worked as a producer for some of the early Windows operating systems.

Gabe Newell
Newell at the 2010 Game Developers Conference
Gabe Logan Newell

(1962-11-03) November 3, 1962
Colorado, U.S.
ResidenceSeattle, Washington[1]
Other namesGaben
Alma materHarvard University (dropped out)
Known forCo-founding Valve
Net worthUS$3.5 billion (November 2019)[1]
TitlePresident of Valve
Lisa Mennet Newell (m. 1996)

While still working at the company during the mid-1990s, Newell and his co-worker Mike Harrington became convinced that video games were the future of entertainment after playing id Software's Doom and Quake. Intrigued by the prospect of having their own game development studio, Newell and Harrington left Microsoft in 1996 to found Valve, where Newell remains president.


Newell was born in Colorado on November 3, 1962, later attending Davis Senior High School in Davis, California.[3] Following that, he attended Harvard University from 1980 until 1983, but dropped out before graduating to work for the American technology company Microsoft.[4][5] Newell then spent the next thirteen years working at the company, serving as a producer of the Windows 1.01, 1.02, and 1.03 operating systems.[6] Newell later stated that he learned more during his first three months at Microsoft than he ever did at Harvard, explaining one of the reasons why he had dropped out.[7] Inspired by Michael Abrash, who left Microsoft to work on the computer game Quake at id Software, Newell and another Microsoft employee, Mike Harrington, left Microsoft to found Valve in 1996.[6] Newell and Harrington used their money to fund Valve through the development of Half-Life and the GoldSrc game engine.

During production on Half-Life 2, he spent several months focusing on the Steam project.[8]

In 2007, Newell openly expressed his displeasure over developing his software for gaming consoles, particularly the PlayStation 3. In regard to the system, Newell was once quoted as claiming that developing processes for the console in general was "a waste of everybody's time"[9] 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'."[10] 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.[11] Newell has also criticized the Xbox Live service, referring to it as "a train wreck".[12] He was also critical of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system, calling it a "catastrophe" and "a threat" to the open nature of PC gaming.[13]

In December 2010, Forbes named Newell as "A Name You Should Know", primarily for his work on Steam having partnerships with multiple major developers.[14] In March 2013, Newell received the BAFTA Fellowship award for his contributions to the video game industry.[15] In October 2017, Forbes listed him among the 100 richest people in the United States, with an estimated net worth of US$5.5 billion.[16][17]

Personal life

Newell formerly suffered from Fuchs' dystrophy, a congenital disease which affects the cornea, but was cured by two cornea transplants in 2006 and 2007.[18] He married Lisa Mennet (now Lisa Mennet Newell) on the same day he founded Valve with Harrington.[19][20][21] The couple has two sons, including Gray.[22][23] The birth of Gray 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.[24]

In 2011, Newell stated that some of his favorite video games were Super Mario 64, Doom, and a Burroughs mainframe version of Star Trek.[25] Doom convinced him that games were the future of entertainment, and Super Mario 64 convinced him that games are a form of art.[25] Newell is also a fan of the animated series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.[26] In 2013, Newell was added to the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame.[27] 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.[28]

Within the gaming community, he is jokingly known as "Gaben", which is derived from his work email address.[29] Newell stated 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."[30]


  1. "Gabe Newell". Forbes. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  2. "D.I.C.E Special Awards". Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  3. Hunt, Jared. "ALUMNI: Gabe Newell". Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  4. Barret, Victoria (December 12, 2005). "It's A Mod, Mod Underworld". Forbes. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  5. "Gabe Newell". LinkedIn. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  6. CVG Staff (September 28, 2007). "Creative Minds: Gabe Newell". Computer and Video Games. Future plc. Archived from the original on December 11, 2014. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  7. Tosie, Anthony. "Gabe Newell: I learned more in three months at Microsoft than entire time at Harvard". Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  8. Keighley, Geoff (November 12, 2004). "The Final Hours of Half-Life 2". GameSpot. CBS Interactive.
  9. Androvich, Mark (October 11, 2007). "PS3 a "waste of time," says Valve's Newell". Gamer Network. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  10. Bishop, Stuart (January 15, 2007). "Gabe Newell: PS3 "a waste of everybody's time"". Computer and Video Games. Future plc. Archived from the original on December 23, 2014. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  11. Bramwell, Tom (June 15, 2010). "Portal 2 coming to PlayStation 3". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  12. Fahey, Mike (September 9, 2010). "Valve Figured Microsoft Would Fix The Xbox Live "Train Wreck"". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  13. "Valve boss Gabe Newell calls Windows 8 a 'catastrophe'". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  14. Chiang, Oliver (November 13, 2010). "Names You Need to Know in 2011: Gabe Newell". Forbes. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  15. "Valve's Gabe Newell to be Honoured with BAFTA Fellowship". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. February 25, 2013. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  16. Chalk, Andy (October 19, 2017). "Gabe Newell is worth $5.5 billion, according to Forbes". PC Gamer. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  17. "Forbes Lists - Gabe Newell". Forbes. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  18. Chiang, Oliver (February 9, 2011). "The Master of Online Mayhem". Forbes. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  19. G4tv (November 16, 2004). Icons: Half-Life. Event occurs at 2:20.
  20. Staff (November 30, 2004). "Valve wins round one in Half-Life distribution debacle". SPOnG. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  21. "Valve Handbook for New Employees" (PDF). Valve. p. 19. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  22. "TUNED TO THE DUNES". The Seattle Times. 2003.
  23. "Gabe Newell". Forbes. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  24. Walker, Alex. "Half-Life's Final Boss Was Based On Gabe Newell's Son (Being Born)". Kotaku. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  25. Ingham, Tim (April 4, 2011). "Gabe Newell: My 3 favourite games". Computer and Video Games. Future plc. Archived from the original on February 11, 2015. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  26. Fahey, Mike (April 12, 2012). "Gabe Newell Just Made My Little Pony Fans Extremely Happy". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  27. Purchese, Robert (November 15, 2012). "Gabe Newell named as next AIAS Hall of Famer". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  28. Horti, Samuel. "Gabe Newell comes to Dota 2 in wonderfully deadpan voice pack". PC Gamer. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  29. Goldman, Tom (March 5, 2011). "Gabe Newell Gives Away Personal Steam Password". The Escapist. Defy Media. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  30. Peterson, Andrea (January 6, 2014). "Gabe Newell on Valve's intimate relationship with its customers". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 9, 2016.

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