Saturday, November 26, 2022 10:08 pm

The Man Behind ‘Fortnite’

Malcolm, a character from the Unreal videogame series, stands near the metal slide that connects two floors in Epic Games’ headquarters. /Photo: Jeremy M. Lange for The Wall Street Journal

At age 20, Tim Sweeney founded Epic Games in his parents’ basement. His company now owns one of the most popular videogames on Earth. But he doesn’t want the credit. 

By Sarah E. Needleman | The Wall Street Journal

By age 30, Epic Games Inc. founder and CEO Tim Sweeney had a couple of successful videogames under his belt and was starting to make real money. 

“I had a Ferrari and a Lamborghini in the parking lot of my apartment,” he recalled. “People who hadn’t met me thought I must be a drug dealer.”

Today, Mr. Sweeney, at 48, is worth more than $7 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index. Epic was last valued at $15 billion, counting Walt Disney Co. and China’s Tencent Holdings PLC among its investors. And “Fortnite,” its blockbuster game, has racked up 250 million players and $3.9 billion in estimated revenue.

Mr. Sweeney is a tech giant, but he remains a little-known figure.

“I’m single. Unmarried, no kids. So I lead a fairly simple life,” he said. In his spare time he programs or hikes. “I love going off the trail and finding things that I think nobody’s ever seen before,” he said.

Mr. Sweeney has long since shed his passion for luxury vehicles. He now puts his money toward nature-conservation efforts. He’s spent hundreds of millions of dollars to preserve more than 45,000 acres of forest throughout North Carolina.

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