Gabe Newell: Grades and Degrees Don’t Predict Success

Just because you didn’t get top grades in school doesn’t mean you can’t end up working for Valve one day, according to co-founder Gabe Newell. In an interview with The Washington Post, Newell explained that these “traditional” credentials aren’t great predictors of future success.

“Somebody having a PhD from an Ivy League school tells you nothing about whether they’re going to be successful in our space,” Newell said. “Grades don’t tell you anything.”

What does predict success, then? Newell goes on with an explanation that reveals why so many top modders found a home at Valve:

“One of the things you have to do to be successful in our business is to be responsive to reactions that people have. You can give ten people the same set of forum posts and only one of them will actually take it in a productive direction. So the fact that somebody has been able to build something and ship it and not get sort of bogged down and give up and then deal with the gush of responses you get, filter through that in a useful and productive way and iterate is really the core of product design and development in our world.”

Given Newell dropped out of Harvard and nonetheless saw incredible success, if there’s one person I’d believe on this matter, it’s him.

via PC Gamer

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2 Comments on Gabe Newell: Grades and Degrees Don’t Predict Success


On January 6, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Yes, and being the head of a game studio co-founder does not guarantee that you’ll release a product.

Sarcasm aside, I agree completely.

CJ Miozzi

On January 6, 2014 at 1:11 pm

@Foehunter82: Hahah, zing!