Mojang Studios was founded by Markus Persson, a Swedish independent video game designer and programmer, in 2009. He had gained interest in video games at an early age, playing The Bard’s Tale and several pirated games on his father’s Commodore 128 home computer, and learned to programme at age eight with help from his sister. Because he was a “loner” in school, he spent most of his spare time with games and programming at home. Following his graduation and a few years of working as a web developer, Persson created Wurm Online, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, with colleague Rolf Jansson in 2003. They used the name “Mojang Specifications” during the development and, as the game started turning a profit, incorporated the company Mojang Specifications AB (an aktiebolag) in 2007. Persson left the project later that year and wished to reuse the name, so Jansson renamed the company Onetoofree AB and later Code Club AB. Meanwhile, Persson had joined Midas, later known as King.com, where he developed 25–30 games. He departed the company when he was barred from creating games in his free time.
In May 2009, Persson began working on a clone of Infiniminer, a game developed by Zachtronics and released earlier that year. Persson reused assets and parts of the engine code from an earlier personal project and released the first alpha version of the game, now titled Minecraft, on 17 May 2009, followed by the first commercial version on 13 June 2009. He reused the name “Mojang Specifications” for this release. In less than a month, Minecraft had generated enough revenue for Persson to take time off his day job, which he was able to quit entirely by May 2010. As all sales were processed through the game’s website, he did not have to split income with third parties. The payment services provider PayPal temporarily disabled his account when it suspected fraud.
In September 2010, Persson travelled to Bellevue, Washington, to the offices of video game company Valve, where he took part in a programming exercise and met with Gabe Newell, before being offered a job at the company. He turned down the offer and instead contacted Jakob Porsér, a former colleague from King.com, to ask for aid in establishing a business out of Mojang Specifications. In response, Porsér stated that he would quit his job the following day, and they subsequently incorporated Mojang AB. While Persson continued working on Minecraft, Porsér would develop Scrolls, a digital collectable card game. Wishing to focus on game development, they hired Carl Manneh, the manager of jAlbum, Persson’s previous employer, as chief executive officer. Other significant early hires included Daniel Kaplan as business developer, Markus Toivonen as an art director, and Jens Bergensten as lead programmer.