Valve Outperformed Apple and Facebook in Profit Per Employee in 2018

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Made $780,400 Net Income Per Head!

Story Highlight
  • Leaked emails revealed Valve’s high profitability in 2018 compared to other tech giants, like Facebook and Apple.
  • Going by the data, it earned $780,400 or more in net income per employee.
  • The gaming giant is still in an incredible position six years later.

Valve’s Steam has a major presence in the gaming industry owing to its position as the largest PC storefront. In 2024, this platform set a new record with 34 million concurrent users. Five hundred games also achieved $3 million in revenue.

In 2018, Valve, which is less popular compared to tech giants such as Apple and Facebook, surprisingly emerged as the leader in profit per head.

Why it matters: Valve’s money-per-head ratio compared to other tech giants shows the company’s profitability in the gaming industry. It also proves Valve really doesn’t have any competition within the gaming space.

Gabe Newell
Gabe Newell, President of Valve Corporation.

Some Valve employees set out to see how well the company was running in 2018. What they found was quite surprising: Valve was making more money per employee than almost every other big tech company.

During the legal battle between Valve and indie developer Wolfire in 2022, new information surfaced from the lawsuit’s discovery phase, which revealed insights into Valve’s financial strength.

An email conversation among Valve employees became a key focus. Despite parts being blacked out, it was clear that Valve was seen as one of the most effective tech companies during that time.

According to the GameDiscover newsletter, Kristan Miller, a key figure at Valve, examined the company’s financial stats, focusing on its net income per hour per employee. Valve stood out when stacked against tech giants like Apple, Amazon, and Facebook.

According to the newsletter, Valve was making at least $780,400 in net income per employee in 2018, according to Facebook’s second-place figures. Apple trailed in third place with $476,160.

Valve CS2 Cases Opened Last Month
Valve generates a lot of revenue from case openings in Counter-Strike 2.

Valve makes most of its money from Steam, the biggest online platform for PC video games.

Since its launch in 2003, Steam changed how PC gaming works, making it easy to buy, download, and organize games. With more than 70,000 games to choose from, this platform has something for everyone.

Steam is undoubtedly the preferred platform for PC gamers. When people buy games on Steam, Valve gets a share, usually around 30% of the price. Also, Valve sells its own hardware, like the Steam Deck OLED, which brings in more money.

It also makes tons of money through first-party games, such as last year’s Counter-Strike 2. Although the game hasn’t done well compared to its predecessor, the publisher makes billions of dollars thanks to millions of cases being opened each month.

Valve’s financial success sparks inquiries into its operational tactics and the broader gaming industry scene. Contrasting its profit per employee with Facebook’s demonstrates the enormity of the gaming industry, making the recent industry layoffs seem bizarre.

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