Did ‘Flappy Bird’ Creator Hit His Threshold for Success?

Some may dream of being an overnight success, but for one app developer, his multi-million dollar success turned out to be a nightmare.

“Flappy Bird” app creator, developer Dong Nguyen, tweeted on Saturday that he would be removing the app from iPhone and Android stores despite its popularity because he “cannot take this anymore.”The free app had been downloaded more than 50 million times since it launched in 2013 and surged in popularity last year.

While it’s unclear what drove him to take down the game, the creator tweeted it “ruins his simple life.”

Speculation over his decision varies, some claim Nguyen was making too much money--at $50,000 a day in advertising revenue alone-- to potential users tormenting him with negative feedback. The app, which required players to steer birds through green pipes, was addictive, but hard.

Sam Polk, a former hedge-fund trader, sympathizes with Nguyen. Polk, who at one point was bringing home $3.6 million in his bonus alone, gave it all up and walked away from Wall Street in 2010.

In a New York Times op-ed in January, Polk describes his addiction to money, and like Nguyen, decided that he wasn’t happy with his current career direction and decided to leave Wall Street to create the nonprofit Groceryships.

“It’s not like I was making too much money,” Polk says of his Wall Street days. “I would sit at my desk, and I liked drinking my coffee, reading the Wall Street Journal and trading. But as the years passed, my bonus kept getting higher and higher and I still felt the same at my desk.”

Polk says no amount of money satisfied him.

“I came to realize that money would never be the factor that determined whether or not things were okay,” he says. “It is so engrained in our belief system that money is the ultimate and unquestionable goal. [Nguyen] is saying, ‘that is not my goal,’ and it shakes up everyone’s unconscious belief systems.”

Career expert Kathy Caprino says reaching your “upper limit” is something that takes self-awareness, and that Nguyen may have reached his with the rapid success of the game. “If you can open your eyes, you can see where your upper limit is,” Caprino says. “In terms of money, salary and happiness, you can just begin to see people start stressing over it. If you are getting anxious, scared or worse, you may have to say this is too much of the ‘upper limit’ problem.”

Caprino notes that hitting this limit is different for everyone, and nearly every client she has worked with has mentioned this limit.

“It’s a situation of boundaries,” she says. “You have to build boundaries to protect yourself.”

This may have been an issue with Nguyen, as some are speculating that the app creator may have received too much negative feedback, which pushed him to take down the popular game.

“You run into vitriolic, angry, anonymous people and they hate you, and can do this because they are anonymous,” she says.

And at the end of the day, it’s possible Nguyen just wasn’t all that interested in making six figures.

“Sometimes people just don’t want to be millionaires,” Caprino says.