When Luke Millanta got the opportunity of a lifetime to play for an American esports team back in 2008, he did what any 17-year-old boy would do - he took it.
In his third term of year 11, Millanta dropped out of high school to pursue his dream of becoming a professional gamer in America.
But in the few months between dropping out and heading to the US, the esports company went under as a result of the global financial crisis.
“That was a stupid move, but at the same time I was just a 17-year-old kid, and looking at the world through optimistic eyes,” he told Yahoo Finance.
A lucky break - then two businesses
After finding out he wouldn’t be heading to America, Millanta’s high school offered their former student an opportunity, which would later see him go on to become the world’s youngest chief information officer.
“The school that I dropped out of said to me, ‘Do you want to do a tech traineeship with us?’”
After 12 months of working in tech as a trainee for his school in the Central Coast, Millanta went on to join the Australian Signals Directorate - one of the nation’s intelligence agencies.
In 2014, Millanta decided it was time to branch out on his own, and founded his first business that was as far removed from his drop-out days as possible - an online learning platform called Acadeemit.
Acadeemit grew to host around 8,500 courses from more than 10 English speaking countries, and supported just under 100,000 users worldwide. Two years later, a competitor bought Millanta’s company.
But just two months after exiting that business, Millanta built another one: software development company Brackenwood Systems.
“I looked at something that needed to be fixed: allowing video gamers to buy and sell their in-game items to each other, but also to cash out, in Bitcoin,” he said.
“At this point in time, Counter Strike skins in particular had started making quite a large amount of noise - there were exchanges out there making a couple hundred thousand dollars a day.”
While he was building his second venture, he was offered a huge role at cybersecurity company, Firstwave - chief information officer.
At just 27, he became the youngest CIO of an ASX-listed company.
“It was pretty cool - I turned up on day one to an executive meeting and I was 27, and the youngest after me was roughly 50. It was a learning curve.”
But it’s not surprising - while Millanta obviously banked the experience to land a role like this, he’s also gifted.
Millanta’s IQ is 146 - he’s in the top 99.9th percentile in the world.
“I got tested and found out I scored in the top 0.1 per cent of the world’s population,” he said.
He was accepted into Mensa, the largest and oldest IQ society in the world when he was just 24, and was later accepted into the more prestigious Triple Nine Society.
Gaming comes full circle
Running your own side hustle and working full-time is tough, but being the sole employee of a fully-fledged business and being in the C-Suite is probably tougher.
“I was running on about three or four hours’ sleep,” Millanta said.
Eventually, something had to give.
“In April this year I started having conversations with Hive Gaming about acquiring Brackenwood, and in May 2020 they did that.”
Hive Gaming purchased Millanta’s company for a whopping $4.2 million - and they also hired him.
Now, he’s the chief technology officer at the gaming company, which he admits is pretty ironic, given he dropped out of school to be a gamer in the first place.
“I left school to work for a sports organisation, and now I'm being contracted into esports organisations. I found a way to do it.”
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