×

Paul Allen, Co-Founder of Microsoft, Dies at 65

Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates and chaired Vulcan Inc., died Monday in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 65.

Allen was born in Washington State in 1953 where he attended both high school and college, before dropping out of Washington State University in the 1970s to co-found Microsoft with his high school friend Gates. However, Allen would leave the company in 1983 due to a battle with Hodgkin’s disease, which he eventually won.

“I am heartbroken by the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Paul Allen,” Bill Gates said in a statement. “From our early days together at Lakeside School, through our partnership in the creation of Microsoft, to some of our joint philanthropic projects over the years, Paul was a true partner and dear friend. Personal computing would not have existed without him.”

Allen — who had a net worth of $26.1 billion at the time of his death, according to Bloomberg data — had interests ranging far beyond PCs. In 1997, Allen co-founded Vulcan Productions with his sister, Jody. Vulcan was involved in films including “Far From Heaven,” “Hard Candy,” “Racing Extinction,” “Girl Rising” and most recently, an adaptation of Naoki Higashida’s bestseller “The Reason I Jump,” a documentary about autism.

Allen’s creativity also transferred to the music industry where he released an album with his band the Underthinkers in 2013. Their debut blues-rock album, “Everywhere at Once,” features Allen’s electric guitar on several songs including “Straw Into Gold,” “Six Strings From Hell” and “Pictures of a Dream.” He also takes the guitar solos on “Down Low” and “Big Blue Raindrops.”

Among his business ventures, Allen aspired to become a major cable-operator player. After he acquired Charter Communications in 1998 for $4.5 billion, the operator amassed subscribers through a series of acquisitions over the next decade — before a massive debt load forced it into bankruptcy in 2009 and Allen relinquished control.

Other Allen interests included professional sports teams, aviation and brain research. Allen owned the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trail Blazers as well as a minority stake in the Seattle Sounders FC soccer team. Allen also funded SpaceShipOne, the first private aircraft to successfully put a civilian in suborbital space, and invested millions of dollars into the Allen Institute for Brain Science.

He also owned Portland’s Moda Center, Seattle’s Cinerama Theater and London’s Hospital Club, which is planning a Los Angeles branch.

Allen’s philanthropic work was similarly diverse. The business mogul founded Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture, previously called the Experience Music Project, and donated more than $1.5 billion to various organizations after becoming one of the first billionaires to join Gates and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge in 2010.

Jody Allen said in a statement on behalf of the Allen family that he was “a remarkable individual on every level.”

“While most knew Paul Allen as a technologist and philanthropist, for us he was a much-loved brother and uncle, and an exceptional friend,” Jody Allen said. “Paul’s family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern. For all the demands on his schedule, there was always time for family and friends. At this time of loss and grief for us — and so many others — we are profoundly grateful for the care and concern he demonstrated every day.”

Microsoft issued a statement from CEO Satya Nadella, who said, “As co-founder of Microsoft, in his own quiet and persistent way, he created magical products, experiences and institutions, and in doing so, he changed the world.”

Allen was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2009 and on Oct. 1, 2018, tweeted that it had returned.

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer tweeted, “Paul was a truly wonderful, bright and inspiring person — and a great friend. I will miss him.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook extended condolences to the Allen family and “everyone at Microsoft” — which historically was a major Apple rival — saying in a tweet, “Our industry has lost a pioneer and our world has lost a force for good.”

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, also tweeted about Allen, saying of the fellow Seattleite, “His passion for invention and pushing forward inspired so many. He was relentless to the end. My heart goes out to Paul’s family and friends.”

More Biz

  • Baby Yoda - The Child Animatronic

    Hasbro's Adorable Baby Yoda Animatronic Toy Is Already Sold Out on Disney's Online Store

    The Force remains strong for toys based on Baby Yoda, the breakout star of Disney Plus original series “The Mandalorian.” Less than a day after becoming available for pre-order, Hasbro’s new $59.99 Baby Yoda animatronic toy is no longer available on Disney’s official online store: As of Friday morning, Shop Disney listed it as “sold [...]

  • BTS Leads Spotify’s New Music Friday

    BTS Leads Spotify’s New Music Friday Playlist Rebrand

    Spotify has launched a global rebrand of its popular New Music Friday playlist, which this week features BTS, The Weeknd, Noah Cyrus, Trippie Redd, Kenny Chesney, Rei Ami and others. The revamped playlist, which has 43 versions worldwide, has more than 3.5 million followers in the US and eight million globally. New elements include a [...]

  • Donna Rotunno Gloria Allred

    Donna Rotunno Complains to Judge About Gloria Allred Attacking Her in the Media

    Harvey Weinstein’s lead attorney Donna Rotunno asked the judge to silence Gloria Allred, the high-powered attorney who is representing three women who’ve testified in the New York rape trial. Before the jury entered the courtroom on Friday morning, the fourth day of deliberations, Rotunno made a complaint on the record to the judge regarding Allred’s [...]

  • Revelries Sign With Edgeout Label via

    Revelries Sign With Edgeout Label via Universal’s Catalog Division

    Louisiana band the Revelries has signed a development deal with Edgeout, a label that will release music via Universal’s catalog division UMe. The band is managed by Red Light. “Edgeout Records is committed to discovering the next generation of rock artists,” said label chief Tony Guanci, who signed an exclusive global deal to release bands [...]

  • MadeFor Productions

    Endemol Shine Sets Up German Scripted Label Ahead of Banijay Acquisition (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Black Mirror” and “Peaky Blinders” producer Endemol Shine Group has set up a new scripted label in Germany, Variety can reveal. Based in Berlin and led by joint CEOs Nanni Erben and Gunnar Juncken, MadeFor Film will focus on both high-end TV series and feature films for the domestic and international markets, as well as [...]

  • Deborah Dugan

    Recording Academy in Mediation with Ousted CEO Deborah Dugan

    The Recording Academy and its ousted president and CEO Deborah Dugan have officially entered mediation, just over a month after their dispute broke into the open, sources confirm to Variety. While a report in Billboard states that mediation began today, a source tells Variety that the two parties have been in communication for at least [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein deliberation

    Weinstein Jury Ends Day With Request for Annabella Sciorra's Testimony, No Verdict

    The jurors in the Harvey Weinstein trial ended their third day of deliberations on Thursday with a request to hear the testimony of Annabella Sciorra. The jury has now been deliberating for more than 14 hours, and will return for further deliberations on Friday morning. In a note to the judge late Thursday afternoon, the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content