Paul Allen biography
Born in 1954 in Seattle, Washington, Paul Allen met fellow Lakeside School student and computer enthusiast Bill Gates when Allen was 14 and Gates was 12. Less than a decade later, in 1975, college drop-outs Allen and Gates founded Microsoft. Allen resigned after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease in 1983, and today continues to pursue other business, research, and philanthropic opportunities.
Early Entrepreneurial Ventures
Entrepreneur and investor. Born in 1954, in Seattle, Washington. While attending the Lakeside School outside Seattle, 14-year-old Paul Allen met 12-year-old Bill Gates, a fellow student and computer enthusiast. Less than a decade later, in June 1975, Allen and Gates, both college dropouts; Allen from Washington State University founded Microsoft with the intention of designing software for the new wave of personal computers. By the time Allen arranged for Microsoft to buy an operating system called Q-DOS for $50,000, the company had already supplied software for emerging companies such as Apple and Commodore. Gates and Allen reinvented Q-DOS as MS-DOS and installed it as the operating system for IBM' PC offering, which dominated the market after its release in 1981.
Departure from Microsoft
In 1983, Allen, known as the "idea man" counterpart to Gates' "man of action," resigned from Microsoft after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, and undergoing several months of radiation treatment. As Microsoft grew and its stock steadily rose, Allen's share in the company he co-founded made him a billionaire at just over 30 years of age. Meanwhile, Allen began to concentrate on other projects, hoping to find the next big idea lurking somewhere just out of sight. In 1986, he set up a company called Vulcan Ventures in order to research possible investments; to that end, he founded a Silicon Valley think tank in 1992 called Interval Research. Through Interval Research and Vulcan Ventures, Allen began to put his long-term dream of a wired world society in which virtually everyone is online - into practice.
His investments were diverse: America Online, SureFind (an online classified ads service), Teluscan (an online financial service), Starwave (an online content provider), hardware, software, and wireless communications. From 1994 to 1998, Allen built an infrastructure of well over 30 different companies in pursuit of his "wired world" strategy. With Vulcan's 1998 purchases of Marcus Cable and more than 90% of Charter Communications, Allen became the owner of the nation's seventh largest cable company. In 1999, he invested nearly $2 billion in the RCN corporation, bringing his total holdings in the cable and Internet businesses to over $25 billion.
He has also invested a good deal in the production of interactive media and entertainment. In total, Allen has major investments in over 100 "new media" companies. In late 1999, Allen and Vulcan Ventures agreed to fund POP.com, an Internet entertainment company formed as a partnership between two prominent production companies: Imagine Entertainment, founded by director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer, and DreamWorks SKG, founded by entertainment giants Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen.
Allen, already an investor in DreamWorks, reportedly invested $50 billion in the company, which aims to create and distribute short features exclusively on the Internet. POP.com was set to debut in the spring of 2000, but failed to get off the ground. Allen has also invested in Oxygen Media, a highly-touted company co-founded by Oprah Winfrey and dedicated to producing cable and Internet programming for women.
Other personal and philanthropic interests include sports (he owns the NBA's Portland Trailblazers and the NFL's Seattle Seahawks) and music. On June 23, 2000, his Experience Music Project (EMP), a $250 million interactive rock & roll museum designed by the architect Frank O. Gehry, will open in Seattle. Allen co-founded EMP with his sister, Jody Allen Patton, who will serve as the museum's executive director. In April 2003, he announced he would be spending $20 million to build the Science Fiction Experience, which will open summer 2004. The museum is billed as "entertaining and thought-provoking exhibits and programs." Allen has also established philanthropic foundations for the causes of medical research, visual and performing arts, community service, and forest preservation.
Allen, with a net worth of around $30 billion, is variably reported to be from the second- to the fourth-richest man in the world (depending on the current value of Microsoft stock). A dedicated Jimi Hendrix enthusiast, Allen plays rhythm guitar in a Seattle band called Grown Men; the band released their first CD in the spring of 2000. Allen lives on Lake Washington's Mercer Island, near Seattle.