I understand getting fired from the company you created after being acquired. That's normal and usually part of the acquisition plan. But, not being invited to the 10th anniversary of the product you created, well, that's a little bit harder to swallow.
This is what happened to the creator of Minecraft, Markus Notch. Microsoft has good reasons though. Notch has been making innappropriate and racial comments about several communities, specifically in the past few years, which triggered Microsoft to not extend an invitation to the event.
Microsoft on the announcement of the event and lack of invitation to Notch had this to say: "His comments and opinions do not reflect those of Microsoft or Mojang and are not representative of 'Minecraft'."
Celebrating the anniversary without Notch would usually be controversial, but Microsoft was ahead of it. Even if it means a less entertaining 10-year anniversary show, they made the right move for the customers, employees, and shareholders.
Here's why I think Microsoft made a smart move.
They stood for what they believe in.
Microsoft's core mission is "to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more." Empowering people to achieve more doesn't mean you should ignore common decency in the process. Even though Minecraft (and XBOX for that matter) doesn't necessarily empower people to get more done, it is still a Microsoft property that represents the entire brand.
I know it seems like this was an easy decision to make, but in a company of thousands of employees, you would be surprised how many dumb decisions are made for short term reasons.
They respected their employees and customers.
How times have changed. While Google (a former tech darling) employees are publicly protesting company policies, Microsoft became a trillion dollar company and continues to make better moves.
They took the high road to not only avoid controversy, but to show the world they don't condone this behavior, even if it means not inviting the founder of one of the most popular games in the world to its 10th anniversary celebration.
Many companies, believe it or not, would have ignored this issue and invited the founder out of respect for creating the company. If you're a founder or leader of a company, you have to lead by example.
I have seen countless examples of founders building a great product, but talented employees avoid working there because they've heard bad things about the company culture. If you want people to respect you, you must show respect first and that often means you have to make strong decisions that everyone might not agree with.
They sacrificed "the show" for a greater good.
Let's be honest, not having Notch in attendance doesn't make the organizer's life any easier. Imagine discussing the history of the game and not mentioning the only founder of the company. Nothing makes a show more interesting than getting a founder's perspective on the game and how the game grew on its own.
Having Notch in attendance would surely make the event more entertaining, no doubt. Instead, they will have to dance around the elephant in the room.
For entrepreneurs, there is one thing that stands out as a lesson: building a legacy is not just about building something people want to buy, it's also about helping the community you built move forward in the right direction. If you don't, you might have a tainted legacy and be excluded from the history books of the game you created. Tread carefully.
Microsoft did the right thing by not extending an invitation to Notch. Not only is it the smart thing to do for the Microsoft brand, but it provides an example for other leaders that ethics are an important part of growing a strong company.