Paul G. Allen, 1953-2018
October 15, 2018 3:45 PM   Subscribe

Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, has died at 65 of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Estimated as the 46th richest person in the world, Paul Allen was known early in his life for his role in starting Microsoft, and later for his investments at Vulcan Capital, Ticketmaster, and Charter Communications as well as his sports investments as owner of the Seattle Seahawks & Portland Trail Blazers, and partial ownership of the Seattle Sounders.
In his later years he pivoted towards a public image of a philanthropist, donating more than $2 billion to various causes. Of particular interest to him were:
• SpaceShipOne
• The Allen Institute for Brain Science
• The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence
• Seattle Cinerama, MoPOP, Flying Heritage Museum, Living Computer Museum (and other Seattle cultural museum efforts)
• SETI's Allen Telescope Array
• Counter-Ebola efforts
• Historical exploration efforts such as the Musashi, the Indianapolis, & the Lexington

In 2010 he was an early signatory to Warren Buffett's Giving Pledge, promising to give at least half of his net worth to charity upon his death.
posted by CrystalDave (77 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
BRB, stealing a small boat.
posted by loquacious at 3:53 PM on October 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


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posted by MythMaker at 3:57 PM on October 15, 2018


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(Cinerama is the best theater anywhere, IMO)
posted by Cogito at 4:00 PM on October 15, 2018 [12 favorites]


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Apparently he was unmarried and had no children.

This makes for an interesting season for the Seattle Seahawkes...
posted by Faintdreams at 4:01 PM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


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posted by tychotesla at 4:02 PM on October 15, 2018


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This caught me by surprise; I hadn't heard about his cancer returning. I work in South Lake Union, which he utterly transformed over the past 20 years. Seahawks, Sounders, Blazers, Cinerama, the Institutes...he was really everywhere, like a local Carnegie or something. A real gut punch.
posted by sapere aude at 4:04 PM on October 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


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Anybody who is a signatory to the Giving Pledge is good people in my book.
posted by allkindsoftime at 4:05 PM on October 15, 2018 [12 favorites]


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posted by elsietheeel at 4:08 PM on October 15, 2018


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posted by mwhybark at 4:08 PM on October 15, 2018


• He is so much a part of the Seattle area. This news saddens me more than I expected.
posted by bz at 4:08 PM on October 15, 2018


"This makes for an interesting season for the Seattle Seahawkes..."

I imagine his sister, Jody, will take the reins of his empire.
posted by bz at 4:10 PM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


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posted by tommasz at 4:12 PM on October 15, 2018


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posted by cashman at 4:13 PM on October 15, 2018


I just realized I've had him mixed up my entire life with Steve Ballmer. The real Paul Allen seems like he was an ok guy.

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posted by Rumple at 4:13 PM on October 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


• He is so much a part of the Seattle area. This news saddens me more than I expected.

He did interesting stuff. His death leaves a bunch of plates still spinning on poles... I wonder what happens to all of that now? The Institutes are probably endowed to last. I've really enjoyed seeing his personal collections of awesome stuff displayed at the Museum of Flight, MoPop, and the Living Computer Museum; I hope all of that doesn't get picked away by the vultures.

(Here I am sitting in an SLU office building while I read the news of Allen's death, listening to a recording of Chris Cornell performing at the Fenix Underground. Sigh.)
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 4:16 PM on October 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


Rest in Peace to the greatest guitarist since Jimi Hendrix.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:17 PM on October 15, 2018 [18 favorites]


Not to discount his remarkable achievements and contributions, but I would like to thank Paul first and foremost for lovingly restoring and constantly-upgrading the Seattle Cinerama, one the greatest single-screen theaters anywhere. My daughter and I won't soon forget watching 'Stop Making Sense' cranked to 10 a few weeks ago. And thanks for the chocolate popcorn, if you had any input there.

Thanks, too, for saving the Seahawks and funding the gorgeous CenturyLink Field, as well as fixing up the Moda Theater for our neighbors in Portland, OR. And thanks for donating $2 billion towards brain science, AI, cell science, early-stage research, SETI, a shit ton of wildlife conservation projects, the Smart Catch program promoting sustainable seafood, the Smart City Challenge, investments in microgrids and solar energy in rural Africa, and that $100 million donation toward the fight to end Ebola—the largest private donor in the crisis. And thanks for the massive donations to WSU (including the School of Global Animal Health) and UW.

It’s been a blast watching SpaceShipOne conquer the skies and a fleet of subs explore the depths—from discoveries of WWII battleships the thousands of hours of research by oceanographers who you let borrow the keys to the subs a gratis.

Thanks for sharing your private collection of memorabilia, aircraft and geek gear with the world. My daughter’s childhood wouldn’t have been the same without many, many hours spent at the Museum of Pop Culture and Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, Living Computer Museum+Labs and Flying Heritage Collection. Thanks for the Upstream Music Festival and especially those little-publicized contributions to local arts (Seattle Arts Fair, for one), music and theaters.

Oh, and thanks for signing on the Giving Pledge to ensure those philanthropic causes remain funded for decades.
posted by prinado at 4:17 PM on October 15, 2018 [36 favorites]


My opinion of Microsoft & Bill Gates has changed over the years, but not Paul Allen. For some reason even from the beginning he always struck me as one of the good guys. I think of him as a philanthropist first and a technologist second these days.

RIP, Paul Allen.

I'm curious to see a response from Bill Gates.
posted by grimjeer at 4:18 PM on October 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


For a dude with a super villain yacht and a space program I have surprisingly positive feelings for the guy. I’m sure like all the hyper-rich he contributed to the current hellscape but I dot think he’s ever been a person to go out of his way to be actively awful. Neutral to very mild neutral business evil compared with the chaotic evil of a Mercer or a Koch. And very invested in his nerd shit without becoming a Musk.

And yeah, everywhere in Seattle there’s traces of him. My favorite cinema, my favorite science fiction museum, etc... etc..
posted by Artw at 4:19 PM on October 15, 2018 [9 favorites]


Rest in Peace to the greatest guitarist since Jimi Hendrix.

Q was cray. Or he had some reason to kiss Allen's ass. I watched a Youtube link from that and he was OK, like an amateur doing pretty well at an open blues jam. Compare people to Hendrix, and you are entitled to expect something as good as, oh, Eric Gales.
posted by thelonius at 4:24 PM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


Live long and Prosper our Vulcan friend
posted by Freedomboy at 4:30 PM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


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posted by ZeusHumms at 4:36 PM on October 15, 2018


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posted by 4ster at 4:36 PM on October 15, 2018


Great, now expropriate that shizz. RIP.
posted by symbioid at 4:39 PM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


So sad!
posted by k8t at 4:39 PM on October 15, 2018


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00560 PAUL ALLEN WROTE THE NON-RUNTIME STUFF. 
posted by scruss at 4:46 PM on October 15, 2018 [11 favorites]


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posted by valkane at 4:49 PM on October 15, 2018


Seahawks owner Paul Allen gives $100,000 to help Republicans keep control of U.S. House

I wonder where the Giving Pledge money will end up.
posted by benzenedream at 4:52 PM on October 15, 2018 [27 favorites]


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posted by introp at 4:53 PM on October 15, 2018



posted by MovableBookLady at 4:54 PM on October 15, 2018


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(Is my browser malfunctioning or is anyone else seeing this typo in the article: "His dad,
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement, “Paul Allen’s contributions to our company..."" )

posted by gusandrews at 4:57 PM on October 15, 2018


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posted by Caduceus at 5:00 PM on October 15, 2018


(Is my browser malfunctioning or is anyone else seeing this typo in the article: "His dad,
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement, “Paul Allen’s contributions to our company..."" )


Mine reads:

Allen was born in Seattle in 1953. His dad, Kenneth Allen, was a University of Washington librarian, and his mother, Faye Allen, was a schoolteacher.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement, “Paul Allen’s contributions to our company, our industry and to our community are indispensable. As co-founder of Microsoft, in his own quiet and persistent way, he created magical products, experiences and institutions, and in doing so, he changed the world. I have learned so much from him – his inquisitiveness, curiosity and push for high standards is something that will continue to inspire me and all of us at Microsoft. Our hearts are with Paul’s family and loved ones. Rest in peace.”


So you may have a browser problem.
posted by Caduceus at 5:01 PM on October 15, 2018



posted by Mental Wimp at 5:04 PM on October 15, 2018


Ah, man. I know some of the staff on the Octopus (I was lead engineer for building the AUV he used to find the Musashi) - hoping they’re not suddenly out of jobs. I hope the ocean and historical science he contributed to continue on - those are amazing vessels, for all kinds of reasons, and the technology on board has done and can continue to do some incredible stuff.
posted by olinerd at 5:09 PM on October 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


What does this mean for the Portland Trail Blazers? What happens to that team?
posted by gucci mane at 5:13 PM on October 15, 2018


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posted by Foosnark at 5:20 PM on October 15, 2018


\r\n
posted by JoeZydeco at 5:24 PM on October 15, 2018 [9 favorites]


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posted by evilDoug at 5:27 PM on October 15, 2018


What has stuck with me recently about Allen were the stories about the screwjobs Gates and Ballmer repeatedly attempted at his expense. (That Forbes link is kinda' odious: The author's position is "gosh, boys will be boys, and of course boys playing high-stakes games should be allowed some leeway to do anything they can get away with", and his version of the anecdote is singularly bloodless. So, sorry for not finding a better link; on the other hand, maybe it's a good illustration of the mindsets of the people in the circles that Allen had to live in.)
posted by ardgedee at 5:31 PM on October 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


His pop culture museum MoPop (previously called “The Experience Music Project”, and possibly other names) is amazing. Everything from Captain Kirk’s chair to Kurt Cobain’s guitars.
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posted by w0mbat at 5:35 PM on October 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


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posted by Silverstone at 5:41 PM on October 15, 2018


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posted by oceanjesse at 6:23 PM on October 15, 2018


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posted by riruro at 6:27 PM on October 15, 2018


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He disproved the idea that 64 years ought to be enough for anyone. You'll be in our extended memory forever. Terminate and stay resident, Paul.
posted by zaixfeep at 6:30 PM on October 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


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posted by a complicated history at 6:33 PM on October 15, 2018


This may be an odd thing to note in an obit thread but Paul Allen owned the megayacht Octopus, to my eye one of the most beautiful ships in existence. But that's neither here nor there; the important thing is that he loaned that ship out to many for exploration projects, scientific research initiatives and rescue missions. That's what a conscientious wealthy person would do with something that would otherwise an outrageous status symbol and sign of conspicuous consumption.

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posted by Purposeful Grimace at 6:42 PM on October 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


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posted by limeonaire at 6:44 PM on October 15, 2018


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posted by Ber at 6:55 PM on October 15, 2018


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posted by doctornemo at 7:00 PM on October 15, 2018


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posted by drworm at 7:05 PM on October 15, 2018


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posted by Sphinx at 7:27 PM on October 15, 2018


Yeah, he amassed an amazing collection of Northwest music memorabilia. We all scoffed at the EMP when it was built, but it’s kind of an amazing museum and is pretty central to the heart of Seattle. The gentrification was inevitable (and largely due to him), but I admire his commitment to the city’s long term cultural life.

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posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:46 PM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


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posted by Cash4Lead at 7:50 PM on October 15, 2018


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posted by JoeXIII007 at 8:19 PM on October 15, 2018


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posted by Halloween Jack at 8:27 PM on October 15, 2018


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Sorry to hear this; 65 is way too young (especially for someone who can afford quality health care). I never knew much about his life, but as seen from way over here on the other side of the country Allen – along with Woz – seemed like one of the few West Coast tech gazillionaires who actually enjoyed life, and tried to do interesting and/or useful things with his money.
posted by LeLiLo at 8:56 PM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


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posted by St. Oops at 9:37 PM on October 15, 2018


His big boat had not just a chopper but TWO submarines. I was pleased to read the previous posts that the ship was used for legitimate research.
posted by sammyo at 10:12 PM on October 15, 2018


That's what a conscientious wealthy person would do

A conscientious billionaire would not stay a billionaire.

There are lots worse things he could have done with most of his money, but let's not forget that in a well-ordered society he would never had anything like it in the first place. His Seattle investments were crumbs from the table of an obscenely rich banquet.

RIP, though.
posted by praemunire at 10:32 PM on October 15, 2018 [9 favorites]


Complicated thoughts tonight. As a Puget Sound native in the tech industry, a Seahawks fan, and a music lover, I really, really wish he hadn't made that last donation to the Republicans. He did a lot with his money that I admired, throughout the world. He transformed the PNW in real and probably lasting ways. Mostly good ways, to my mind, although I know there have been some downsides, too. I have to think that in the long run, those positives more than makes up for the chump change he tossed to the Republicans. But it still hurts. It's not how I wanted to remember him. Ultimately, I'm sure it won't be. But it was the last thing I read about him before this. I guess we all contain multitudes. I'm quite certain he did more good in the world than I have.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:44 PM on October 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


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posted by morspin at 11:39 PM on October 15, 2018



posted by Cranberry at 12:10 AM on October 16, 2018


I’ve felt weird all day about this! I actually did some work for Paul Allen. Not directly where I got to meet him or anything. I worked as a paid phone bank person for the initiative that he started to help make the Seahawks Stadium which replaced the old King Dome. He did a lot for Washington State. He’ll be missed.
• 🏈
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:22 AM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


BRB, stealing a small boat.

Hope you've got your passport ready, it's been parked at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town for nearly a month.
posted by PenDevil at 1:38 AM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


quality health care

No matter how rich you are, you still aren’t immortal or immune to things that kill even poor people. NHL is a beast of a disease, often taking people in their prime. Good people. Bad people. Regular people. Poor people. Rich people. And all the billions in the world won’t help.

That said, Steve Jobs probably should have gone to the doctor.


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posted by spitbull at 5:25 AM on October 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


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Paul Allen is the person to blame for Windows using backward slashes instead of forward ones for directory separators. This was and continues to be a huge source of aggravation in my life, but I have to admire the way he just kind of owned that mistake in a Wired interview.

Anyway, he seemed a pretty decent person for a billionaire.
posted by suetanvil at 5:25 AM on October 16, 2018 [7 favorites]


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posted by filtergik at 5:40 AM on October 16, 2018


but I dot think

Epony...


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posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 6:31 AM on October 16, 2018


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posted by fremen at 8:30 AM on October 16, 2018


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He has transformed my research field.
posted by Dashy at 8:34 AM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


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posted by Splunge at 9:10 AM on October 16, 2018


Paul Allen was the recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars in public welfare for billionaires which he used to build his football and basketball stadiums. Taxpayers are still paying for these sports extravagances today.
posted by JackFlash at 10:10 AM on October 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


The Allen Institute for Brain Science is a pretty big deal in neuroscience and I hope they are financially secure.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 10:23 AM on October 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


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I visited the Living Computers Museum for the first time this year and was absolutely blown away. Entering their cold room full of mainframes is like walking through a time machine, and the amount of work+money that goes into maintaining those systems is mind-boggling.

I don't know enough to comment on his other expenditures, but I'll always appreciate the chance to experience a bygone era of computing.
posted by ripley_ at 11:20 AM on October 16, 2018 [7 favorites]


Bill Gates: What I loved about Paul Allen
posted by Jpfed at 1:32 PM on October 16, 2018 [4 favorites]




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