Paul Gardner Allen (January 21, 1953 – October 15, 2018)[2][3] is an American industrialist and philanthropist who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates and is one of the wealthiest people in the world with a personal wealth of US$13.5 billion as of 2010.[1]

He is the founder and chairman of Vulcan Inc., which is his private asset management company, and is chairman of Charter Communications. Allen also has a multi-billion dollar investment portfolio which includes stakes in Digeo, Kiha Software, real estate holdings, and more than 40 other technology, media, and content companies. Allen also owns three professional sports teams: the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League (NFL),[4] the Portland Trail Blazers of the National Basketball Association (NBA),[5] and minority ownership in the Seattle Sounders FC Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise.[6]


According to Forbes Allen is the 37th richest person in the world, worth about $13.5 billion.[1] This is up from 2009's $10.5 billion, but down from $16 billion, the total reported by that same magazine at the beginning of the global financial crisis of 2008–2009, when he was 12th on its list of the richest Americans.[1]

In 2007, Allen's net worth was estimated at $18 billion, which at that time made him the 19th richest in the world. On Thursday, July 15th 2010 he said that that he will give away the majority of his fortune, following a recent call by his former partner Bill Gates for billionaires to publicly pledge at least half of their wealth to philanthropy. In March 2010 Forbes estimated his wealth at $13.5 billion.[7]

Life and career

Early years

Paul Gardner Allen was born in Seattle, Washington, to parents Kenneth S. Allen, an associate director of the University of Washington libraries, and Faye G. Allen, on January 21, 1953.[8] Allen attended Lakeside School, a private school in Seattle, and befriended Bill Gates, who was two years his junior but shared a common enthusiasm for computers.[9] They used Lakeside's teletype terminal to develop their programming skills on several time-sharing computer systems.[10] After graduation Allen attended Washington State University but dropped out after two years in order to work as a programmer for Honeywell in Boston, placing him near his old friend again.[10] Allen later convinced Gates to drop out of Harvard University in order to create Microsoft.


Paul Allen on Gates, Microsoft

Paul Allen on Gates, Microsoft

Allen co-founded Microsoft (initially "Micro-Soft") with Bill Gates in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1975, and began marketing a BASIC programming language interpreter.[9] In 1980, after promising to deliver IBM a Disk Operating System (DOS) they had not yet developed for the Intel 8088-based IBM PC, Allen spearheaded a deal for Microsoft to purchase a Quick and Dirty Operating System (QDOS) written by Tim Paterson who, at the time, was employed at Seattle Computer Products. As a result of this transaction, Microsoft was able to secure a contract to supply the DOS that would eventually run on IBM's PC line. This contract with IBM was the watershed in Microsoft history that led to Allen and Gates's fabulous wealth.[10]

Allen was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease in 1983. His cancer was successfully treated by several months of radiation therapy and a bone marrow transplant. However, he did not return to Microsoft and began distancing himself from the company.[10] Allen officially resigned from his position on the Microsoft board in November 2000 but was asked to consult as a senior strategy advisor to the company's executives.[11] He sold 68 million shares of Microsoft stock that year,[12] but still owns a reported 138 million shares.[13]


In 2007 and 2008, Allen was listed among Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The World.[14]

On October 30, 2008, the Seattle-King County Association of Realtors honored Paul Allen for his “unwavering commitment to nonprofit organizations in the Pacific Northwest and lifetime giving approaching $1 billion.”

Paul Allen has received awards and honorary degrees from several universities. In May 1999, Washington State University bestowed its highest honor, the Regents' Distinguished Alumnus Award, upon Allen. He received a "Docteur honoris causa" from the Ecole Polytechnique D-Washington, and Seattle Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke spoke at the event honoring Allen.

On January 31, 2009, Paul Allen received a special merit award from the Oregon Sports Award program, recognizing his many contributions to Oregon's sports scene during his 20+-year ownership of the Portland Trail Blazers basketball franchise.


Paul Allen has made contributions to organizations related to health and human services, and toward the advancement of science and technology. The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation was established in 1986 to administer most of his contributions.[15] Through the Foundation, Allen awards approximately $30 million in grants annually.[16] Roughly 60% of the Foundation's money goes to non-profit organizations in Seattle and the state of Washington, and 12% to Portland, Oregon. The remaining 28% is distributed to other cities within the Pacific Northwest.[16] Allen has donated US$900 million of his money, as of 2007.[17] Allen also contributes through other charitable projects known as "venture philanthropy". The most famous of these projects are the Experience Music Project, the Seattle Cinerama, the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, the Flying Heritage Collection (airworthy vintage military aircraft) and the Allen Telescope Array (ATA).[17] The ATA is a partnership between the University of California, Berkeley and the SETI Institute.[18] Allen has a flower fly named after him for his contributions to Dipterology, called Paul Allen's flower fly.[19] Allen has also funded the purchase of many Jimi Hendrix artifacts, including the guitar Hendrix played at Woodstock, and ensured their public display in the Experience Music Project exhibits.[20]

Although he attended Washington State University and has given money to its music school, Allen has donated more money to the University of Washington. In the late 1980s, Allen donated US$18 million to build a new library named after his father, Kenneth S. Allen.[21] US$5 million was donated in 2003 to establish the Faye G. Allen Center for Visual Arts, named after his mother.[22] Allen was also the top private contributor, with US$14 million in donations, and namesake, of the "Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering", which was completed in 2003.[23] Throughout the years, Allen has contributed millions of dollars to the University of Washington Medical School.[24] The foundation awarded US$3.2 million for prostatitis research in 1997, followed by an additional $1.0 million grant in 2002.[25] More recently, the foundation contributed $5.0 million for an early cancer-detection project at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.[26]

Allen founded the Allen Institute for Brain Science in 2003 with Jo Allen Patton (sister of Paul Allen) as a nonprofit corporation (501(c) (3)) and medical research organization. Utilizing the mouse model system (given its great similarity to human DNA), 20,000 genes in the adult mouse brain were mapped to a cellular level for the Allen Brain Atlas. The data generated from this effort is contained in the free and publicly available Allen Brain Atlas application located at In 2008, the Institute also launched the Allen Spinal Cord Atlas project. All of these scientific findings will prove invaluable to international researchers working on cures for neurological and nervous system illnesses and injuries.

On July 16, 2008, Allen launched a $ 41 million online "Allen Spinal Cord Atlas" mouse gene map. Allan Jones, chief scientific officer, said: "The Allen Spinal Cord Atlas offers profound potential for researchers to unlock the mysteries of the spinal cord and how it is altered during disease or injury." The spinal cord atlas is set up like the Allen Institute's earlier atlas of the mouse brain.[1] The Map could reveal new treatments for human neurological disorders. The map points researchers toward places where genes are active [2][27][28]

On November 19, 2008, Allen appeared at the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Hall of Fame to present the second annual Founder's Award for musical achievement. The award was presented to Robbie Robertson, a founding member of the seminal 1960s band The Band and a noted composer of film scores. Allen founded the museum in 2000. The award was presented as part of a gala benefit for EMP. The finale was a four-song set with all the evening's musicians on stage, including Allen and Robertson on guitar.

Paul Allen is also a founding member of The International SeaKeepers Society and hosts its proprietary SeaKeeper 1000TM oceanographic and atmospheric monitoring system on all three of his megayachts.


On November 15, 2009, Jody Allen, Paul Allen's sister and the CEO of Vulcan made public that Paul had been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of cancer.[29]


His lymphoma returned in mid-to-late 2018, and he died subsequently on October 15.


File:Ansari X-Prize Check.jpg

Allen has made several investments since becoming a billionaire. He confirmed that he was the sole investor behind Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites' SpaceShipOne suborbital commercial spacecraft on October 4, 2004. SpaceShipOne climbed to an altitude of 377,591 feet (115,090 m) and was the first privately funded effort to successfully put a civilian in suborbital space. It won the Ansari X Prize competition and received the $10 million prize.[30]

Allen was a key developer and investor in the development of the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle as a biotechnology hub and mixed-use community.[31] He was also the largest private landowner in South Lake Union and owns nearly 2,600,000 square feet (240,000 m2) in the neighborhood.[31] His holdings company has a development capacity of more than 10,000,000 square feet (930,000 m2) of new residential, office, retail and biotech research space.[31] The South Lake Union redevelopment represents one of the largest urban revitalization projects in the country.[32] Allen has made investments estimated at US$200 million as of 2005, and promoted for city funding of the Seattle Streetcar line known as South Lake Union Streetcar, which runs from Seattle's Westlake Center to the south end of Lake Union.[33] The Streetcar is a public and private partnership made possible because of a Local Improvement District (LID) supported by businesses and residents along the line;[34] it officially started operation on December 12, 2007.[35] This development has been criticized as a city-supported real estate investment for Vulcan Inc.,[36] and concerns over the loss of low-income housing have been expressed.[37]


Allen purchased the Portland Trail Blazers NBA team in 1988 from California real estate developer Larry Weinberg for $70 million.[5] He was also instrumental in the development and funding of their Rose Garden in 1993.[10] The Blazers are valued at approximately $300 million according to a 2006 issue of Forbes.[38] Allen has been asking Portland and Oregon officials for assistance in the financing of the Blazers since 2006, which he estimated would lose $100 million over the next three years.[39] Portland Mayor Tom Potter rebuffed the requests.[40] Allen announced the completion of the acquisition of the Rose Garden on April 2, 2007, and stated that this was a major milestone and a positive step for the franchise.[41] He said “My efforts are focused on continuing to support the Trail Blazers and the long-term financial health of the franchise."[42]

Allen purchased the Seattle Seahawks NFL team in 1997 when former owner Ken Behring threatened to move the Seahawks to Southern California.[4] Allen was allowed to buy the team despite owning the NBA's Trail Blazers since Portland, Oregon doesn't have an NFL team. (NFL rules prohibit team owners from either outright ownership or a majority share of another sports team outside its home market if they play in the same city as another NFL team.) He played a large part in the development of the new Seahawks' stadium, Qwest Field, although it was funded largely by tax revenue.[43]

Allen's Vulcan Sports & Entertainment is part of the ownership team of the Seattle Sounders FC a Major League Soccer franchise that began play in 2009 at Qwest Field, a stadium also controlled by Allen.[6]. The ownership team also includes film producer Joe Roth, businessman Adrian Hanauer, and comedian Drew Carey. Sigi Schmid, two-time MLS Cup winner, is the team’s head coach.

During the Sounders’ first season, every home game was sold out, a new MLS record for average match attendance was set, and the most season tickets were sold in the league. The team finished the 2009 season with a winning record and qualified for the MLS playoffs, where they were eliminated in the conference semi-finals. Seattle Sounders FC is only the second expansion team in history to win the U.S. Open Cup tournament in their first season.

The launch of Paul Allen's 416 feet (127 m) Octopus yacht secured its position as one of the world's largest yachts in 2003.[44] Its current position is ninth in the list of motor yachts by length. The yacht is equipped with two helicopters, two submarines, a swimming pool, a music studio and a basketball court.[45] Allen also owns Tatoosh, also one of the world's 100 largest yachts.

Allen is known for throwing huge, celebrity-studded parties on his yacht, such as a 2005 New Year's Eve party in which he and his band played Johnny Cash songs with R&B star Usher. His band also played at another party he hosted during the Cannes film festival with keyboardist Dave Stewart.[45][46][47]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Forbes topic page on Paul Allen Retrieved March 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Attner, Paul (March 35, 1996). "Behring straits — Seattle Seahawks owner Ken Behring". Sporting News. Retrieved March 31, 2008. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Learn More About Larry Weinberg". National Basketball Association. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Seattle to Get Expansion MLS Franchise for 2009". ESPN. November 9, 2007. Retrieved November 10, 2007. 
  7. Forbes topic page on Paul Allen Accessed March 2010
  8. Wallace, James (April 22, 1996). "Paul Allen: More Than Money". Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "News" section. Retrieved March 31, 2008. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Bill Gates: Before Microsoft". Virginia Tech. Retrieved March 31, 2008. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 "Paul Allen". The History of Computing Project. Retrieved March 31, 2008. 
  11. "Paul Allen to Take on New Role As Senior Strategy Adviser to Microsoft Board". Microsoft. 2000-09-28. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  12. "#3, Allen, Paul Gardner". Forbes. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  13. Cringely, Robert X. (2006-03-30). "Prisoner of Redmond: Yet Another Way Paul Allen Isn't Like You or Me". PBS. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  14. Pinker, Steven (2007-05-03). "Paul Allen". Time.,28804,1595326_1595329_1616322,00.html. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  15. "Paul G. Allen Family Foundation". Institutions of Philanthropy. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Grant List". Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Paul G. Allen Family Foundation Awards $9.5 Million in Grants". Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  18. "Allen Telescope Array Fact Sheet". SETI Institute. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  19. Fairman, Jennifer E. (1999-08-19). "Paul Allen's Flower Fly". United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  20. Lyke, M. L. (June 22, 2000). "The Guitar God: Jimi Hendrix Lit Up Rock – and Burned Himself Out". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  21. "UW Libraries Facts". University of Washington. Retrieved March 31, 2008. 
  22. Garber, Andrew (June 16, 2004). "Paul Allen Sees Space Tourism in Our Future". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 31, 2008. 
  23. "The Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering". University of Washington. Retrieved March 30, 2008. 
  24. Sowers, Pam (February 6, 2001). "Million Dollar Grant by the Paul G. Allen Foundation for Medical Research to University of Washington Medical Scientist Program". (University of Washington). Retrieved March 31, 2008. 
  25. "Allen Foundation Pledges $3.2 Million for Prostatitis Research at the University Of Washington". Science Daily. May 14, 1997. Retrieved March 31, 2008. 
  26. "Paul G. Allen Family Foundation funds $5 Million Early Cancer-detection Project". Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. August 31, 2006. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  27., Gene map charts spinal cord mysteries
  28., MapQuest for the mouse spinal cord
  29. "Paul Allen diagnosed with cancer". Cnet. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  30. Ina Fried (2004-10-04). "SpaceShipOne captures X Prize". CNN. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 Mulady, Kathy (October 20, 2004). "Remaking South Lake Union: Seattle Is on Fast Track to Build Biotech Hub". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  32. Richman, Dan (March 10, 2008). "Meet the Quiet Force Behind Paul Allen's Remaking of South Lake Union". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  33. Template:Cite newscessdate=2008-03-31
  34. Mulady, Kathy (June 18, 2003). "Businesses Backing Streetcar Plan for South Lake Union". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved March 31, 2008. 
  35. Curl, Aimee (January 23, 2008). "Won't You Ride the S.L.U.T?". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved January 25, 2008. 
  36. Cook, John (January 2, 2004). "Venture Capital: Airplanes ... to Antibodies". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved March 30, 2008. 
  37. McOmber, J. Martin (September 29, 2002). "Seattle Declares Low-income Housing Building Unfit". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 30, 2008. 
  38. "Portland Trail Blazers". Oregon Live. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  39. Associated Press (March 27, 2006). "Allen on Blazers: Team's future 'up in the air'". ESPN. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  40. Bernton, Hal (2006-02-25). "Allen's Trail Blazers Seek Help to Stay in Portland". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 31, 2008. 
  41. Wertheim, L. Jon (November 27, 2007). "The Quiet Owner: Paul Allen". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved March 30, 2008. 
  42. "Vulcan Inc. Completes Acquisition of Rose Garden Arena". NBA. Retrieved March 31, 2008. 
  43. "Qwest Field". Retrieved March 31, 2008. 
  44. Byrne, Diane M.. "World's 100 Largest Yachts 2007". Power & Motoryacht. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  45. 45.0 45.1 Byrne, Diane M.. "America’s 100 Largest Yachts". Power & Motoryacht. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  46. Bush, James (August 8, 2001). "Needle Exchange". Seattle Weekly: "News Clips" section. Retrieved March 31, 2008. 
  47. "People in the News: New Year's Rocks on Allen's yacht. And Yet We Do Not Know When He Invented Things". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. January 5, 2006. Retrieved March 31, 2008. 

External links

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