Paul Allen

Paul Allen,

Paul Gardner Allen (born January 21, 1953 in Seattle, Washington) is an American entrepreneur.

With Bill Gates, he formed Microsoft. Allen regularly appears on lists of the richest people in the world; as of 2007 Forbes ranks him the fifth richest American, worth an estimated $18.0 billion. He is the founder and chairman of Vulcan Inc. (his private asset management company) and chairman of Charter Communications. Allen also has a multibillion dollar investment portfolio which includes large stakes in DreamWorks Animation SKG, Digeo, Oxygen Media, real estate holdings and more than 40 other technology, media and content companies.

Allen was recently invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

Allen also owns two professional sports teams: The Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League and the Portland Trail Blazers of the National Basketball Association.

In 2007, Allen was listed among Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The World.

He currently resides in Mercer Island, Washington.

Early years

Paul Gardner Allen was born in Seattle, Washington to parents Kenneth S. Allen, an associate director of the University of Washington libraries, and Faye G. Allen, in 1953. Allen attended Lakeside Elementary School, a prestigious private school in Seattle, and befriended Gates, who was two years his junior but shared a common enthusiasm for computers. Allen was a model student in his years at Lakeside School. They used Lakeside's teletype terminal to develop their programming skills on several timesharing computer systems. After graduation, Allen attended Washington State University, and was an active member in Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity, though he dropped out after two years to go and work as a programmer for Honeywell in Boston, which placed him near his old friend again. He later convinced Gates to drop out of Harvard University in order to create Microsoft.



With Bill Gates, he co-founded Microsoft (initially "Micro-Soft") in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1975, and began selling a BASIC programming language interpreter. In 1980, Allen spearheaded a deal for Microsoft to buy an operating system called 86-DOS (QDOS) for $50,000. Due to IBM deadlines, Gates and Allen felt that they didn't have enough time to develop an operating system from scratch; they therefore purchased the fully functional QDOS and reworked the code to fit IBM's needs. Microsoft won a contract to supply the finished program for use as the operating system of IBM's new PC. This became a foundation of Microsoft's growth..

In 1983 Allen was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. Before resigning from Microsoft to pursue medical treatment, it is alleged that Allen overheard a discussion between Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer regarding Allen's health and talking about how to get Allen's shares back if he were to die. Allen himself has neither confirmed nor denied this allegation and there is no recorded evidence of the discussion. Allen's cancer was successfully treated by several months of radiation therapy and a bone marrow transplant. However, Allen did not return to Microsoft and began distancing himself from the company.

In November 2000, Allen resigned from his position on the Microsoft board but was asked to consult as a senior strategy advisor to the company's executives. He further distanced himself from Microsoft by selling 68 million shares. He still owns a reported 138 million shares.


Much of Paul Allen's success has been dedicated to health and human services and toward the advancement of science and technology. The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation was established in 1986 to administer much of the giving. Through the Foundation, Allen awards approximately $30 million in grants annually. Roughly 60 percent of the Foundation's money goes to non-profit organizations in Seattle and the state of Washington and 12 percent to Portland, Oregon. The remaining 28 percent is distributed to other cities within the Pacific Northwest. Allen also contributes through other charitable projects known as "venture philanthropy". The most famous of those projects are Experience Music Project, the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, Allen Institute for Brain Science, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence through the Allen Telescope Array. The Allen Institute for Brain Science is located at 551 N 34th Street, Seattle, WA, 98102 (Fremont neighborhood of Seattle).

The University of Washington has been a major recipient of Paul Allen's donations. In the late 1980s, Allen donated US$18 million to build a new library named after his father, Kenneth S. Allen. In 2003 US$5 million was donated to establish the Faye G. Allen Center for Visual Arts, named after his mother. Allen also was the top private contributor (US$14 million) and namesake of the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering (completed in 2004). Throughout the years, Allen has contributed millions of US dollars to the University of Washington Medical School. In 1997 the Foundation awarded US$3.2 million for prostatitis research, followed by an additional US$1.0 million grant in 2002. Most recently the Foundation contributed US$5.0 million for an early cancer-detection project by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Paul Allen's total lifetime giving as of 2007 is estimated by some sources to be approximately US$900 million. Critics would point out, though, that Paul Allen is the recipient of numerous government handouts. The stadium that his Seahawks play in was paid for with US$300 million of tax payer dollars. King County (Washington state) is paying US$36 million to build a sewage treatment plant whose only customer is Paul Allen's Willows Run Golf Course. The City of Seattle is paying US$22 million to build a streetcar line to connect Paul Allen's Lake Union biotech development project to downtown Seattle. It has been reported in the media that Paul Allen's Vulcan Inc company is lobbying for road improvements in the Lake Union area that would cost Seattle as much as $200 million. If these road improvements occur, they would cause the value of Vulcan's real estate to increase, which causes critics to ask why Seattle (and not Vulcan itself) should bear the cost.

He also has a flower fly named after him for his contributions to Dipterology (see Paul Allen's flower fly).

Allen has also funded the purchase of many Hendrix artifacts (including the guitar Hendrix played at Woodstock) and ensured their public display in the Experience Music Project exhibits.

Seattle real estate investment and development efforts

Allen is a key developer and investor in the controversial development of the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle as a biotechnology hub and mixed-use community. Allen is the largest private landowner in South Lake Union and owns nearly 60 acres in the neighborhood. Vulcan's South Lake Union holdings have a development capacity of more than 10,000,000 square feet (930,000 m²) of new residential, office, retail and biotech research space. The South Lake Union redevelopment represents one of the largest urban revitalization projects in the country. This development has been criticized as a city-supported real estate investment for Vulcan Inc. Concerns over the loss of low-income housing are prominent. Allen has made investments estimated at US$200 million as of 2005, and has promoted for city funding of a Seattle Streetcar line from Seattle's Westlake Center to the south end of Lake Union that is expected to begin operating by the end of 2007.

Other investments

At one time, Allen's Vulcan Ventures owned TechTV, a 24-hour cable and satellite channel based in San Francisco, featuring news and shows about computers, technology, and the Internet. TechTV was eventually acquired by G4.

Sports involvement

In 1988, Allen purchased the Portland Trail Blazers NBA team from California real estate developer Larry Weinberg (businessman) for $70 million, and was instrumental in the development and funding of their Rose Garden Arena in 1993.

In 1997, Allen purchased the Seattle Seahawks NFL team when former owner Ken Behring threatened to move the Seahawks to Southern California. He played a large part in the development of the new Seahawks' stadium, Qwest Field, although it was funded largely by tax revenue.

Since 2006, Allen asked Portland and Oregon officials for assistance in the financing of the Blazers, which he estimated would lose $100 million over the next three years. Portland Mayor Tom Potter rebuffed the requests. On April 2, 2007 Allen announced the completion of the acquisition of the Rose Garden Arena and at the time stated that this was a major milestone and a positive step for the franchise. “My efforts are focused on continuing to support the Trail Blazers and the long-term financial health of the franchise."

According to a 2006 issue of Forbes, the Blazers are valued at approximately $300 million.

On 27 April 2007, it was rumoured that Allen may launch a takeover bid for English football club Southampton. An apparent close source said "he believes there is long term investment value in UK Soccer. Southampton is a sleeping giant, a family-supported club with traditional values, and we see the value in taking the brand global.". Allen has since denied those rumors and has expressed that he has no interest in making a bid for Southampton.


In 2004, Allen confirmed that he was the sole investor behind Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites' SpaceShipOne suborbital commercial spacecraft. SpaceShipOne was the first privately funded effort to successfully put a civilian in suborbital space and winner of the Ansari X PRIZE competition.


In 2003, the launch of Paul Allen's 127 m (416 ft) Octopus secured its position as one of the world's largest yachts. Its current position is sixth in the List of motor yachts by length. Allen has two other very large yachts.

He is known for throwing huge, celebrity-studded parties on the yachts, such as a 2005 New Year's Eve party in which he and his band played Johnny Cash songs with RnB star Usher. This famous mega yacht is situated at the port of Antibes/French Côte. (Credit: Wikipedia).


Paul Allen official website

Paul G. Allen Family Foundation


Press Release

Paul G. Allen Family Foundation Awards $9.6 Million in Grants

Latest grants benefit nearly 100 nonprofit organizations in the Pacific Northwest

SEATTLE, Wash. – October 16, 2007 – A shared information technology project to serve children with special needs in Yakima, Wash.; the renovation of a historic theater to house a symphony orchestra in Spokane, Wash.; a capital campaign to build a crisis service center in Anchorage, Alaska; and the expansion of a much-needed medical clinic in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. These are just four of the initiatives that will be advanced by funding from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation (PGAFF) through its philanthropic grants from the spring 2007 application period.

The Foundation announced today that a total of $9,604,500 has been awarded to 96 nonprofit organizations throughout the five-state Pacific Northwest region (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska). In the current giving cycle, PGAFF continues to direct a majority of its funding in the form of capacity building and capital grants, which enhance a nonprofit organization’s ability to achieve its mission effectively and to sustain itself over the long term. These types of grants focus on improving infrastructure and technology, funding facility improvements and enhancing organizational development to improve the services provided to clients and customers.

“The Foundation’s goal is to advance the efforts of nonprofit organizations that improve the quality of life in the Pacific Northwest,” said Susan M. Coliton, senior director of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. “We believe one of the best ways to do that is by providing funds and tools that help nonprofits become stronger, more self-sustaining, and better able to serve their communities over the long-term. We are pleased that these latest grants will empower a wide range of nonprofit organizations in the Northwest to achieve their charitable goals more effectively and create lasting change within our local communities.”

Currently, few foundations and venture philanthropists have committed to investing in the organizational capacity of the nonprofits that they fund. A 2005 survey by the Foundation Center, a leading authority on philanthropy, revealed that only 20 percent of grants awarded by more than 1,200 private and community foundations were for capacity building and operating support. A 2007 report by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations points out that the current level of capacity building grants is small in comparison to other forms of charitable giving.  By contrast, over 50 percent of grants awarded by PGAFF during its latest giving cycle – totaling about $5 million – were geared towards building organizational capacity within nonprofits.

Charitable contributions in the most recent grant cycle were focused in three program areas, with $3,955,500 for arts and culture grants, $3,905,000 for community development and social change programs, and $1,744,000 for youth engagement programs.

Highlights of the grants in the arts and culture program area include: $350,000 (a 1:1 challenge grant) to the Fox Theatre (Spokane, Wash.) to support a capital campaign to renovate the historic building to house Spokane Symphony Orchestra and other local arts organizations and support economic revitalization of downtown Spokane; $350,000 to Portland Opera (Portland) to help address technology infrastructure needs and make capital improvements that will expand production and public access spaces, increase patron comforts, and make the building more energy efficient; $350,000 (1:1 Challenge) to the Village Theatre (Issaquah, Wash.) to help build a new 14,500-square-foot technical studio near the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre in Issaquah in order to consolidate technical production functions and to renovate the historic 1914 First Stage Theater to bring it up to code and increase patron comfort; and $225,000 to Missoula Art Museum (Missoula, Mont.) to support a capacity building project focused on resource, audience, and leadership development to help the Missoula Art Museum sustain its operations in its newly expanded and renovated facility. Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle received a $500,000 1:1 Challenge grant to support a capital campaign to develop the historic Colman School building in Seattle's Central District consisting of 36 affordable rental housing units and a 17,000-square-foot Northwest African-American Museum.

Community development and social change grant highlights include a $50,000 grant for Covenant House (Anchorage) to support a feasibility study and planning for a capital campaign to house its crisis services for homeless youth; $60,000 grant to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital to research and plan a shared information technology project for multiple agencies that serve children with special needs at the Children's Village in Yakima; a $150,000 capacity building grant to Centro de la Raza (Seattle) to fund resource development; $155,000 to FareStart (Seattle) to help the organization build out its administrative infrastructure as it trains underprivileged workers in the restaurant arts; and $80,000 grant to the Market Foundation (Seattle) to expand the Pike Place Market Medical Center.

To improve youth engagement in the five-state focus area, grant highlights include a $175,000 multi-year grant to The Children's Institute (Portland) to develop their infrastructure and provide support for policy development and advocacy for early childhood education programs throughout Oregon; a $75,000 grant to Digital Learning Commons (Seattle) to fund a two-year, statewide project to enhance the organization’s ability to provide internet-based classes and online resources to Washington schools; a $50,000 grant to Swinomish Indian Tribal Community (La Conner, Wash.) to support Native Lens, a youth digital media making program; $250,000 capital campaign grant to the University of Montana Foundation (Missoula, Mont.) to fund the Phyllis J. Washington Education Center: and a $100,000 grant to the Hearing, Speech, and Deafness Center (Seattle) to help build a new literacy lab.

The Foundation also awarded 10 percent of its latest funding in the form of artistic creation and presentation grants, which directly support specific programs by local, regional, and national artists.  Highlights include a $10,000 grant to the Boise Contemporary Theatre (Boise, Idaho) to support a production of Maria Dahvana Headley's new play entitled "Last of the Breed;" and a $60,000 grant to Perseverance Theatre (Douglas, Alaska) to support two new productions including Brian Tucker's "An Apology for Storms" and Paula Vogel's "The Long Christmas Ride Home."

During this latest giving cycle, the Foundation funded 60 nonprofits in Washington, 20 in Oregon, nine in Montana, two in Idaho, three in Alaska and two region-wide projects. A complete list of grants awarded in the current cycle can be accessed at

Launched by Microsoft co-founder, investor and philanthropist Paul G. Allen in 1988, the Allen family’s philanthropy advances arts and cultural endeavors, funds programs that engage children more deeply in the learning process, and responds to the needs of vulnerable populations. Named one of the top philanthropists in the United States by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Allen has donated more than $937 million via the Foundation, personal donations, venture philanthropy projects and other charitable giving.

Since its inception, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has awarded grants to nearly 1,600 diverse nonprofit groups to support and advance their critical charitable endeavors in the Pacific Northwest. The Foundation reviews and awards grants twice per year, and accepts applications from eligible organizations located in – or serving the populations of – Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Eligible nonprofit organizations are encouraged to submit letters of inquiry (LOIs) at least a month in advance of the Foundation’s March 15 and August 15 proposal deadlines. Staff and the Foundation’s board review proposals to determine those projects that best meet the Foundation’s funding priorities and review criteria.

About the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation

Launched in 2004 through the consolidation of Allen’s six private foundations (first established in 1988), the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation supports nonprofit organizations focused on making positive and measurable change in the Pacific Northwest. The mission of the Foundation is to build healthy communities and advance social progress through four strategic programs. Visit the Foundation on-line at



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