Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen has died of complications from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at the age of 65.
Born in 1953, Allen met Bill Gates at Seattle's Lakeside School, where they got their start in computing working on a school Teletype terminal. After two years at Washington State University, Allen dropped out to work as a programmer in Boston and soon persuaded Gates to leave Harvard University and launch the company Allen named Microsoft. He was first diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1982 and, with his relationship with Gates deteriorating, resigned from Microsoft in 1983 while remaining on the company's board. He was first treated for his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2009 and had been in remission until recently.
Through Vulcan, Inc., which he founded with his sister, Jody, to manage his business and philanthropic affairs, and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Allen leaves a legacy of giving to an impressive variety of philanthropic causes, including artificial intelligence, brain research, and cell science; wildlife and marine conservation; the arts and higher education; homelessness in Seattle; and emergency responses to Ebola and Zika outbreaks. He launched the Allen Institute for Brain Science in 2003 with seed funding of $100 million and in 2016 launched the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, a ten-year, $100 million effort focused on exploring the landscape of bioscience and ideas at the frontiers of knowledge. Earlier this year, Allen committed $125 million in support of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) and Project Alexandria, a new research initiative focused on common sense AI. His foundation also committed $30 million in support of a project to develop a permanent supportive housing community in Seattle that serves as a resource hub for local families experiencing homelessness.
According to this year's Forbes 400 list, Allen was one of only twenty-nine of America's four hundred richest individuals to have given at least $1 billion and/or 20 percent of their total net worth to philanthropic causes, having given $2.6 billion, or 11 percent, as of September. He ranked seventh in Forbes' list of U.S. philanthropists who gave the most during 2016 and twenty-eighth in 2017. Allen also was the owner of the Portland Trailblazers and the Seattle Seahawks and a minority owner of the Seattle Sounders, the city's Major League Soccer franchise.
"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," Vulcan CEO Bill Hilf said in a statement on behalf of Vulcan Inc., the Seahawks and Trailblazers, Stratolaunch Systems, the Allen Institute, and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. "Paul loved Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. The impact of Paul's efforts can be seen here at every turn. But the true impact of his vision and generosity is evident around the globe."
"I am heartbroken by the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Paul Allen," Gates said in a statement. "He channeled his intellect and compassion into a second act focused on improving people's lives and strengthening communities in Seattle and around the world. He was fond of saying, 'If it has the potential to do good, then we should do it.' That's the kind of person he was."
(Photo credit: Vulcan Inc.)