Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft Corp., a key supplier to the auto industry who used the fortune he made from the technology giant to invest in TrueCar, professional sports teams, cable TV and real estate, has died. He was 65.
Allen died on Monday in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to a statement from Vulcan Inc., his investment firm. Allen’s source for his varied investments and sizable charitable donations was his once-major stake in Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft. He had a net worth of $26.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Allen, along with Bill Gates, co-founded Microsoft and helped create an entire industry selling software for a new breed of smaller, more affordable and widely accessible computers.
“I am heartbroken by the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends,” Gates said in a statement. “Paul was a true partner and dear friend. Personal computing would not have existed without him.”
Allen stepped down as an officer of the company in 1983 because he was grappling with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In 2009, Allen was treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which two weeks ago he said had returned.
Microsoft products and operating systems such as Cortana, Office and Skype cut a huge swath through the auto industry today. Customers include Renault-Nissan, BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and Volvo.
Ford Motor Co. tapped Microsoft in 2007 to launch Sync, a voice-operated entertainment and phone service. In 2014, Ford dropped Microsoft in favor of Blackberry for a new-generation of the infotainment system.
Vulcan Capital, Allen's investment arm, was also an investor in TrueCar, the online vehicle shopping site.
“A high-tech demigod” is how Sports Illustrated described the man who came up with the name for Microsoft, a company whose ubiquitous products include the Windows operating system and the Office suite of software. “He is one of the richest men in history, a figure of such dizzying wealth and eclectic tastes that he recently donated $100 million to brain research and $25 million to the search for extraterrestrial life,” the magazine wrote in a 2007 profile.
Paul Gardner Allen was born on Jan. 21, 1953, in Seattle to Kenneth and Faye Allen. His father was a university library executive and his mother was a teacher.
Allen went to the Lakeside School, where he met a younger Gates and the two worked on early computer programs in the school’s lab. In a time when computers were rare, Allen lurked in the University of Washington computer labs, using the machines and aiding students and professors. Finally a professor asked if he was actually a student and Allen was forced to admit he wasn’t. But he was allowed to stay, as long as he continued to be helpful, Allen said in a 2017 interview.
He attended Washington State University but didn’t graduate, dropping out and moving to Massachusetts to be closer to fellow computer aficionado Gates, who was attending Harvard University.
In 1975, they founded a company they called Micro-Soft in Albuquerque, N.M., after Allen saw a new Altair computer kit on the cover of Popular Electronics magazine and realized computer prices would drop and software would be necessary.