Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's has received lots of attention in local and national media for his memoir, titled “Idea Man,” due out this month.
Today Allen is the chairman of Vulcan, Inc., a privately held project management and investment company based in Seattle and has a variety of interests, including owning the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trailblazers and building the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum in Seattle.
The memoir outlines Allen's longtime relationship with Microsoft's founding partner Bill Gates, from their teen years programming at Lakeside School in Seattle to the creation of Microsoft. Allen told Lesley Stahl of "60 Minutes" that he began writing the book in 2009 because he had been diagnosed with cancer recently and wanted to pen the memoir while he was still alive to see it published.
Stahl's profile of Allen includes some interesting footage of Gates and Allen in 2007 reminiscing about their childhood and the beginnings of Microsoft. CBS posted—quite appropriately—plenty of extra web videos, including an interview with GeekWire.com writers John Cook and Todd Bishop that questions whether the memoir is a vendetta. Is it significant that Paul Allen is the son of librarians and Bill Gates the son of a lawyer?
Timothy Egan of the New York Times earlier this month published an opinion piece outlining his belief that Allen is a lonely man who is not doing as much with his money as Gates.
Mercer Island Patch writer DeAnn Rossetti also " including some of the passages that describe the younger Gates as socially awkward:
"Rita (Allen’s girlfriend) and I had come to New England knowing two people. Then there was Bill. Rita had roasted a chicken one night for dinner and couldn’t take her eyes off him. 'Did you see that?' she said after he’d left. 'He ate his chicken with a spoon. I have never in my life seen anyone eat chicken with a spoon.' When Bill was thinking hard about something, he paid no heed to social convention. Once, he offered Rita fashion advice—basically, to buy all your clothes in the same style and colors and save time by not having to match them. For Bill, that meant any sweater that went with tan slacks."
But Gates also could be a ruthless businessman, according to Allen's memoirs. In a one passage, Allen describes discovering Gates and Steve Ballmer discussing diluting Allen's interest in the company while he was battling Hodgkins' lymphoma:
“One evening in late December 1982, I heard Bill and Steve (Ballmer) speaking heatedly in Bill’s office and paused outside to listen in. It was easy to get the gist of the conversation. They were bemoaning my recent lack of production and discussing how they might dilute my Microsoft equity by issuing options to themselves and other shareholders. It was clear that they’d been thinking about this for some time.
"Unable to stand it any longer, I burst in on them and shouted, 'This is unbelievable! It shows your true character, once and for all.' I was speaking to both of them, but staring straight at Bill. Caught red-handed, they were struck dumb. Before they could respond, I turned on my heel and left."
Mercer Island Patch reports that Allen will be reading from his book and signing it at a few select venues throughout the Pacific Northwest, starting with a Town Hall signing in Seattle on April 22. "Idea Man" will be available for purchase at on April 19 as well.
—Information from Mercer Island Patch writer DeAnn Rossetti was used in this article.