Paul Allen

As co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, Paul Allen was estimated to be the 51st richest person in the world, with an estimated wealth of $17.5 billion in January 2015. In addition to partnering with Bill Gates to make Microsoft an international household name, Allen founded and now serves as the chairman for Vulcan Inc., a company specializing in investment and project management. Aside from currently investing billions of dollars in real estate, technology and media companies, Allen has founded the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and Stratolaunch Systems.

Allen, a Seattle, Washington native, first became friends with Gates in grade school. Though Gates was three years younger, the pair connected over their love for computer systems. Allen attended the University of Washington, but dropped out as a sophomore in order to work in Boston as a computer programer. When Allen moved East, he and Gates, now a student at Harvard University, reconnected. Allen convinced Gates to follow in his footsteps by dropping out and the two moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where they developed Microsoft.

In 1982, Allen stepped back from the company when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma which he survived after successful treatments of radiation. Allen officially resigned from his position on the Microsoft Board of Directors in November 2000 but was asked to consult as a senior strategy adviser to the company’s executives and still owns a reported 100 million shares. Though mostly based out of Seattle, Allen recently purchased a newly constructed Atherton modern estate in the heart of the Silicon Valley for $27 million.

Allen combines business with pleasure by investing in his interests in film, athletics and music. An avid sports fan, Allen owns NBA team Portland Trail Blazers and NFL team Seattle Seahawks, he also has part ownership of the Seattle Sounders FC under the Major League Soccer franchise.

In addition to sports, Allen has been interested in music since he was a teenager with a particular passion for the electric guitar and blues rock. Paul Allen and the Underthinkers released their first album titled Everywhere at Once in 2013 under Sony’s Legacy Recordings label. Allen owns and produces films and documentaries with his sister Jody for Vulcan Productions some of which have received Academy and Golden Globe nominations.

Allen’s philanthropy is well documented and he has donated more that $1.5 billion to organizations with focuses ranging from technology to education to wildlife conservation. In 2000, Allen signed The Giving Pledge where he pledged to give at least half of his fortune to charitable causes over the course of his life.

In 2011, Allen recounted his life story in Idea Man: A Memoir by the Cofounder of Microsoft.