Paul Allen is an investor, inventor, philanthropist and as most people know him as; the co-founder of the computer software giant Microsoft Corporation. He is the 53rd richest person in the world with a net worth of approximately $15 billion.
Allen was born on 21st January 1953 in Seattle, Washington. He went to Lakeside School where he became friends with Bill Gates who shared his passion for computers and technology. They used to work on their programming skills on their school’s computers. Allen achieved a 1600 on his SATS and enrolled in Washington State University however dropped out two years later to work as a programmer for Honeywell. It was Allen who talked Bill Gates out of continuing studies at Harvard so they could work on the big idea that was ‘Microsoft’. Paul Allen co-created Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975 with a BASIC programming language translator. According to Fortune Magazine he was the one to name the project Microsoft. The duo reinvented Q-DOS to MS-DOS and set it up as the operating system for IBM’s PCs which became a huge success in the market after it was released in 1981.
The computer enthusiast parted from Microsoft after he found out that he had the Hodgkin’s disease. While he underwent treatment, Microsoft expanded and its stock value increased making Allen a billionaire at the age of just 30. Paul Allen focused on other projects hoping to create another ‘big’ idea like Microsoft. He founded Vulcan Ventures in 1986 to look for investment possibilities. To further that he also established Interval Research in 1992. Allen did not invest in a single area instead decided to be diverse in his investments that included SureFind, America Online, Starwave, Teluscan, software, hardware and wireless communications. He made an infrastructure of more than 30 companies in order to achieve his dream of a ‘wired world’. His company Vulcan acquired Marcus Cable and almost 90% of Charter Communications making Allen the holder of the 7th biggest cable company of America. He invested in other ventures such as the Interval Research Corporation, South Lake Union and Ticketmaster. He was the only investor in Burt Rutan’s commercial spacecraft called Scaled Composites’ SpaceShipOne suborbital.
Paul Allen also does a substantial amount of philanthropic work in the fields of human services, health and science and technology. His organization the ‘Paul G. Allen Family Foundation’ was set up in 1986 and it donates almost $30 million in endowments every year. He also gave 26 million dollars to his alma mater the Washington State University. Allen is also the co-owner and executive producer of Vulcan Productions which is a filmmaking firm based in Seattle. Its goal is to start, develop and fund independent film projects of high importance. These films have achieved recognition from Golden Globes, Independent Spirit Awards, Emmys and Grammys. They have also been nominated in the Academy Awards.
Allen’s yacht the ‘Octopus’ was one of the biggest yachts in 2003. By 2011 it was ranked 12th in the list of motor yachts by length. Allen holds huge events and parties on his yacht like the New Year’s party of 2005.