Paul Allen, the tech tycoon who co-founded Microsoft and became one of the world’s wealthiest men, died on Monday. He was 65 years old. The cause was non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to a statement from Allen’s company Vulcan Inc.
In a statement, Allen’s sister Jody remembered him as “a remarkable individual on every level.” “While most knew Paul Allen as a technologist and philanthropist, for us he was a much-loved brother and uncle, and an exceptional friend,” she said. “Paul’s family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern. For all the demands on his schedule, there was always time for family and friends. At this time of loss and grief for us — and so many others — we are profoundly grateful for the care and concern he demonstrated every day.”
“Paul Allen’s contributions to our company, our industry and to our community are indispensable,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote in a statement on behalf of the company. “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.”
Allen was born in Seattle in 1951; he met Bill Gates in high school, where the two men connected over their love of computers. The two eventually dropped out of college to found Microsoft in 1975. Five years later, Microsoft inked a deal to supply IBM computers with an operating system, which started the company on its path to becoming a tech giant.
However, Allen left the company not long after, resigning his position in 1983 but maintaining his shares, which paid off when Microsoft went public in 1986, and his position on the board. Allen founded other companies, including Vulcan Inc., and became active as an investor and philanthropist.
“[Allen] possessed a remarkable intellect and a passion to solve some of the world’s most difficult problems, with the conviction that creative thinking and new approaches could make profound and lasting impact,” Vulcan Inc. said in a statement. “…Paul’s life was diverse and lived with gusto. It reflected his myriad interests in technology, music and the arts, biosciences and artificial intelligence, conservation and in the power of shared experience – in a stadium or a neighborhood – to transform individual lives and whole communities.”
An avid music fan and benefactor, Allen founded the Experience Music Project in 2000 (later renamed the EMP Museum and, currently, the Museum of Pop Culture). “You know who sings and plays just like [Jimi] Hendrix? Paul Allen,” Quincy Jones told Vulture in February. “I went on a trip on his yacht, and he had David Crosby, Joe Walsh, Sean Lennon — all those crazy motherfuckers. Then on the last two days, Stevie Wonder came on with his band and made Paul come up and play with him — he’s good, man.” Allen collected numerous classic guitars, including those owned by Hendrix and Woody Guthrie. In 2017, he founded the Upstream Festival, a new fest billed as “Seattle’s South by Southwest” that highlighted regional talents. The festival returned to the city in June of this year.
Allen was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1982, but he recovered from the cancer. He announced that he had started treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma this month.
The billionaire also owned the Portland Trail Blazers and the Seattle Seahawks, whose personnel and players both expressed their condolences on social media. “We miss you. We thank you. We love you,” the Trail Blazers tweeted, while the Seahawks retweeted Allen’s quote, “As long as we work together – with both urgency and determination – there are no limits to what we can achieve.”
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