Blizzard is one of the world’s biggest gaming companies, with titles like World of Warcraft and Diablo, they are definitely one of the titans in the game industry. But, if it weren’t for a somewhat unusual loan, the company may not have ever existed. Well, maybe not unusual necessarily. Blizzard CEO and President Mike Morhaime asked his grandmother for a loan in order to start up his gaming business. Again, its not necessarily “unusual”, but not who you would typically get a loan for. According to Morhaime when he and Allen Adham first started the company, they each needed to contribute $10,000. In order for Morhaime to get his portion, he had to ask his grandmother for help. In fact, he asked her for $15,000.
This story is really cute because he says that she didn’t charge him any interest. This was long before they had actually built any games. It was them getting the doors open and starting out. The terms of the loan can be seen on a scrap piece of paper which states the sum would be paid back in $100 monthly installments, without interest. They made this agreement back in February of 1991. Both Morhaime and his grandmother signed the piece of paper. With that Blizzard (or Silicon and Synapse as it was called then) was founded four days later.
If Morhaime could go back in time, to know what his company would become, he said that it would have relieved a lot of anxiety. Morhaime explains that his grandparents were always very supportive. His grandmother didn’t necessarily play the games that he was creating, but she was proud of the work that he did.
The company started in 1991 as Silicon & Synapse, with Allen Adham, Morhaime, and Frank Pearce as its founders. They started out as work for hire, making games for Interplay Productions. But now they’ve grown into a 4,000-employee powerhouse, with $1.6 billion in the 12 months that ended September 30, the leading subscriber online game in World of Warcraft, a 30 million seller in Diablo III, and two growing esports with Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (a card battler) and Heroes of the Storm (an online multiplayer strategy game). Throughout the ups and downs, the changes in ownership, a transition in power in which Adham turned the reins over to Morhaime, the company has outlived the competition.
This kind of story warms my heart. Mostly because his grandmother could see the potential in him. She gave him the money, not necessarily because of what he was going to do with it, but knowing that he needed it to help meet his goals. I think it’s important to have someone like that in your corner. It’s incredible when you can have someone who is unconditionally supportive of you and your endeavors. Someone who only wants to see you succeed and who would do anything to make that happen. That’s what Mike Morhaime’s grandmother did for him. And if you have a project out there that you’re trying to get up off the ground. Or if you’re just trying to achieve a goal that seems unattainable, I hope you have someone in your corner like Morhaime did.