Topic: paul allen
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October 28, 2013 at 11:46 AM
Ten years after it opened, the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering still has that new-building smell.
September 30, 2013 at 12:30 PM
Here’s a video of Allen (in red shirt) and his band, the Underthinkers, who released an album earlier this summer. They’re playing at the event Friday night at the Pacific Science Center.
If the Seahawks make it to the Super Bowl, perhaps the Underthinkers should be part of the halftime show.
October 5, 2012 at 2:06 PM
Here’s the entire filing that Amazon submitted today, disclosing its plans to buy its current South Lake Union campus from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
Allen originally amassed the land for a proposed urban park but turned it into a tech-focused commercial real estate zone after the park plan failed to win voter support.
Buying the land outright is a huge commitment by Amazon to Seattle, where it’s also planning to develop another campus nearby in downtown.
ITEM 1.01 ENTRY INTO A MATERIAL DEFINITIVE AGREEMENT
The Company entered into purchase and sale agreements to acquire 11 buildings comprising 1.8 million square feet of our currently leased corporate office space
in Seattle, Washington, for approximately $1.16 billion. Subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions, the Company expects to close the purchase in Q4
2012, and has made a non-refundable deposit of approximately $23 million, which will increase to approximately $51 million on October 22 and will be forfeited
if we do not close the transaction in Q4 2012.
It seems like only yesterday they were breaking ground on the campus:
June 13, 2012 at 10:10 AM
In the debate over a huge arena deal to lure the NBA back to Seattle, an open question has been whether project leader Chris Hansen has enough capital to back up his promises.
Hansen’s a hedge fund manager and early investor in Facebook but his wealth is a mystery.
But maybe that doesn’t matter so much, since Steve Ballmer is on Hansen’s team.
The Microsoft chief executive doesn’t flaunt it, but he’s one of the richest men in the world – so rich that if the Seattle NBA team becomes a reality, Ballmer will be the league’s richest owner.
That’s based on the Forbes ranking of the world’s billionaires, which ranks Ballmer 44th (and 19th in the U.S.), with a fortune of $15.7 billion. It ranks Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen – currently the richest NBA team owner – at 48th globally with $14.2 billion.
As a reader noted below, New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is also pretty well off. The Russian businessman is 58th on the Forbes list with a worth $13.2 billion.
For comparison, Oklahoma Thunder minority owner Aubrey McClendon is ranked 1,075 on the global Forbes list with $1.1 billion.
Microsoft stock has been tepid in recent years but Ballmer’s doing just fine with his largest investment. His stake in the software giant is worth about $10 billion at today’s price.
Actually $9.79 billion, based on the 333,252,990 shares he held as of the company’s last proxy statement in October. He holds just under 4 percent of Microsoft’s stock. Bill Gates has just over 6 percent.
Hansen and his other disclosed partners, two Nordstroms, aren’t on the Forbes top 400 list. Erik Nordstrom’s stake the Nordstrom company is worth $118.6 million at the latest price today and Peter Nordstrom’s is worth $117.4 million. That’s based on their holdings as of March 30.
These partners clearly establish local ownership of the potential NBA team. Yet how much financial security these people are offering the taxpayers of Seattle and King County in the arena deal remains to be seen.
Ballmer and the Nordstroms aren’t going to pledge their fortunes to back up the $200 million in public loans the NBA venture is pursuing.
For a lesson in how billionaire team owners protect their personal wealth from the ups and downs of the sports business, review how Paul Allen was largely unscathed by the complicated bankruptcy of the Rose Garden arena he developed for his Trail Blazers in partnership with the city of Portland.
The arena financing model failed in part because proceeds of luxury suites didn’t pan out as expected. Allen gave up ownership of the arena in 2004 and then bought it back in 2007.
In Seattle, Hansen’s group envisions an NBA and NHL arena in a complex similar to L.A. Live, a cluster of restaurants, bars and hotels adjacent to Staples Center.
Here’s a look toward L.A. Live last week at 4 p.m. before a Kings playoff game:
June 16, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Smith & Tinker, a once high-flying Bellevue game startup, is resurfacing this week with a new Marvel superhero game for Apple’s iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
“Marvel Kapow!” features characters such as Thor, Wolverine, Spider-Man and Captain America. Players uses touchscreen gestures such as flicks to slash enemies with Wolverine’s claws or shoot them with Spidey’s web.
Smith & Tinker was started in 2007 by Jordan Weisman, a former Microsoft creative director. The company raised more than $29 million from a-list backers including Paul Allen and a group of venture capitalists.
The money was mostly used to develop a line of handheld game players aimed at young boys and built around a sci-fi monster game called Nanovor that launched in 2009.
That project was dropped last year after a restructuring that eventually cut the number of employees from around 55 to under 10. A recent check found Nanovor gear for 99 cents at Amazon.com, although the game’s no longer supported.
Weisman remains on the board and contributes to creative work but the company’s now led by Disney veteran Joe Lawandus. The company also relocated from Bellevue to space near the downtown Seattle waterfront.
“We’ve had a pretty interesting ride over the past few years,” Lawandus said.
Lawandus said the company still has enough cash to build at least one more game based on Marvel characters. The company last year reached a licensing deal with Disney, Marvel’s owner, that enables it to build casual games based on all characters in the Marvel universe.
“We’re super excited about what we think tablets can bring to the mobile gaming space,” he said, adding that the company is trying to reach big audiences with the brands used in its games.
“Marvel Kapow!” is available through iTunes in free versions with seven levels and advertising, or ad-free versions with 26 levels and additional characters that cost $1.99 for iPhone and iPod or $3.99 for iPads. Later the company may develop versions for Android and perhaps Windows, he said.
May 2, 2011 at 10:55 AM
There’s something for almost everyone in Paul Allen’s new memoir, “Idea Man.”
There are chapters on the Seahawks, the Trail Blazers, space travel, billionaire vacations, brain research and Jimi Hendrix.
Woven throughout are anecdotes and sometimes catty asides about the amazing parade of people Allen met as he worked his way up and partly back down the list of the world’s richest people.
This makes it the most revealing book yet about lifestyles of the software tycoons living along the east shore of Lake Washington.
But “Idea Man” provides only a partial view of the rise of Microsoft and the modern tech industry. Allen played an important role in the early days and clearly feels his contributions are underappreciated. That’s fine, but the book’s insistent portrayal of Allen as a visionary compromises its documentary value and pushes it toward the category of public relations.
The first third of the book describes how a geeky Wedgwood kid discovered computers, fell in with Bill Gates and eventually suggested they start a company making software for the first microcomputers.
Allen drops names left and right — teachers at Lakeside, woolly programmers from the early days and celebrities he schmoozed with after joining the billionaire club.
As in a movie, some of the best lines were revealed in the previews. Excerpts published in March included most of the juicy bits, where Allen describes Gates’ abrasive style and how Allen overheard Gates and Steve Ballmer “scheming to rip me off” by diluting Allen’s Microsoft stake.
It turns out the book is less a vendetta than an effort to shape and polish the legacy of an unusual man whose technical skills and vision launched Microsoft at the dawn of personal computing. I’d put it on the same shelf as the $625, 2,400-page cookbook that former Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Nathan Myhrvold published last year and the authorized Steve Jobs biography that’s being released in early 2012.
Allen’s biggest business lately seems to be real-estate development. But he’s put renewed effort into defining himself as a tech visionary after brushes with death in 2009, when he received a pacemaker and fought a recurrence of the cancer that precipitated his resignation from Microsoft in 1983.
While writing the book, Allen simultaneously sued Apple, Google, Facebook and other major tech companies. He alleged they were infringing on patents from a research lab he funded before the dot-com crash. The suits describe the lab as “one of the preeminent technology firms” and Allen as “one of the earliest pioneers of personal computer software.”
Allen never says so directly, but the book leaves the impression he’s resentful or jealous of Gates’ fame, accolades and reputation. Several “told you so” passages drive this home.
When antitrust investigations of Microsoft were peaking in 1997, “I advised Bill to temper his stance,” but Gates insisted he could bundle a browser or other features to his products, Allen wrote.
He also claims to have foreseen the importance of Google: “Years before Google became the goliath it is today, I repeatedly asked Bill how Microsoft was going to catch up in search, or whether the company might consider buying Google instead. Bill was unimpressed by his then much smaller rival. ‘In six months we’ll catch them,’ he kept saying.”
Allen also takes a few jabs at Jobs. He recalls being appalled by Jobs’ berating an employee in a meeting, and another incident where Jobs rejected Allen’s suggestion that a computer mouse would be better with two buttons, rather than the single mouse button Jobs planned for the Macintosh.
“In time I’d be vindicated,” Allen wrote, noting Windows became the dominant PC platform, the second button helps millions of users and Apple began offering its multi-button Mighty Mouse in 2005.
Tech leaders aren’t the only ones skewered. Allen gets in several digs at his former investment manager, executives at the cable company where Allen lost $8 billion, and Bob Whitsitt, the former Sonics manager Allen hired to lead the Blazers and the Seahawks.
The gentlest rebuke is given to his beloved mother, for selling Allen’s childhood collection of science-fiction books 25 years after he had moved out of the family house. She proudly told him a man paid $75 for the lot.
“It was hard to forgive her for that, but an old photograph saved the day,” Allen wrote. “After enlarging the picture, I was able to make out the titles on my old collection’s spines. I had copies tracked down and retrieved almost all of them.”
“Idea Man” is the recollection of one person and not a transcript of history, of course. It’s not journalism, and some controversies are skipped over.
Prurient readers will be disappointed the book isn’t as candid as promised on its front flap. There are no juicy stories from the $10 million parties the guitar-playing bachelor hosted on yachts and in exotic locales for friends and celebrities.
There’s no mention of Allen’s relationship in the late 1990s with tennis champion Monica Seles, who is half his age. Allen talks about his ill-fated investment in the DreamWorks movie studio, but he doesn’t mention an earlier production company he bankrolled until the co-founder accused him of sexual harassment.
Also missing are details of Allen’s reincarnation as a real-estate mogul.
It’s still fun and enlightening to peek behind the curtain that Seattle’s most colorful billionaire has pulled around his life. Even if you’re only seeing a stage carefully filled with Allen’s favorite things.
March 31, 2011 at 9:35 AM
Paul Allen’s trying awfully hard to be sure he’s remembered as a technology visionary and not just a quirky billionaire.
But perhaps Allen’s trying too hard to shape his legacy.
Building edifices such as the Experimental Music Project was just the start — though it’s now looking like an apt symbol of Allen’s melting relationship with Bill Gates, whose new foundation headquarters has risen across the street.
Allen’s aggressive new approach began last year, after he fought back a recurrence of cancer. In July he publicly pledged to give most of his fortune to charity. Then in August he sued Apple, Google, Facebook and other tech companies, arguing that they copied ideas hatched long ago by his research ventures.
Now Allen’s releasing an autobiography — “Idea Man” — to tell his remarkable story.
But the reception to excerpts of the tell-all suggests his re-branding effort may backfire.
The excerpts reiterate that Allen made key contributions to Microsoft’s genesis and ended up with a smaller share of the company than Gates, a story that’s been told before.
What’s newly revealed is the depth of Allen’s resentment over his dealings with Gates.
It’s so catty, Allen risks going down in history as the world’s richest disgruntled employee — the guy who stomped out of the building with $20 billion, thinking he deserved $25 billion.
I’ve followed Allen for more than a decade and talked to him a number of times. He’s always been polite, except for the time his security guard shoved me aside, the night Washington voters agreed to fund a stadium for his Seahawks.
Whenever I asked about Gates, Allen talked up their friendship. Here’s what he told me in June 2008:
“We have dinners regularly. We love to see movies together. The thing I always tell people about Bill that they may not know is, he’s really a lot of fun to hang out with.”
“We used to go to movies a lot together. We would predict what’s going to happen in the movie. If something funny happened, then we would just crack up. We still to this day have a lot of fun just hanging out and talking and brainstorming about future things.”
Something must have changed. Maybe he was frustrated at being overshadowed by Gates all these years, or just had to get things off his chest. Still, nobody expected Allen to vent so publicly.
Gates was a brutal boss and a crafty negotiator. He’s a ruthless businessman who once aspired to be a lawyer like his wealthy father, who helped set things up. Allen’s an eclectic, music-loving son of a University of Washington librarian. Given these backgrounds, it’s impressive that Allen ended up with 36 percent of their startup.
Another sore point is the cut Gates gave to Steve Ballmer, to convince his Harvard pal to join the company in 1980.
Allen, who attended Washington State University, writes that he and Gates decided to give Ballmer 5 percent of Microsoft. But when he left on a business trip, Gates gave Ballmer 8.75 percent, “considerably more than what I’d agreed to.”
Allen wasn’t the only one miffed by Ballmer’s hiring package. It caused a “personnel disaster,” according to “Gates,” a 1993 biography by Paul Andrews and Stephen Manes. They didn’t say much about Allen’s feelings at the time, but said there was widespread resentment after Ballmer’s offer was tacked onto the office bulletin board.
The ones to feel sorry for are Microsoft’s early clerical workers, with whom “Gates had been tightfisted beyond the bounds of the law,” Andrews and Manes wrote.
While Allen was grousing about dilution, the clerks had to file a complaint with the state to extract back pay for overtime that Gates owed them.
We’ll have to see what the rest of Allen’s book says, and whether people are as interested in his life before and after Microsoft. There’s some irony in the book getting its initial burst of attention because of its candid view of Gates.
Hopefully “Idea Man” is more than a vendetta. That would be a shame because Allen’s otherwise providing fascinating new details from his front-row perspective on the birth of the PC industry and a company that dramatically changed the Seattle area and the world.
For better or worse, Microsoft is like a natural element. Much of the world runs on its software, and it may be the most profitable business ever created anywhere.
Allen left Microsoft when it was really just getting started, more than a decade before Windows 95.
Early employees who thought they knew the man don’t know what to make of his book.
“I’m taken aback,” said Jon Shirley, who became Microsoft’s president the year Allen left and served with him on its board.
Shirley said he’s been getting calls from very early employees, talking about the excerpts.
“I think everybody’s sort of in the same situation I am — it’s very hard to understand,” he said.
Shirley said the book probably won’t alter the general perception of Microsoft, which was more affected by antitrust cases.
“Microsoft is no longer Bill and Paul,” he noted.
Gates and Allen have also changed, presumably.
“How the world wants to view the interchange of these two very young men — when they were young men — I don’t know,” he said. “You’ll have to decide whether you accept this story or not. It’s shocking to me — it doesn’t sound like Paul.”
Or maybe there’s a lot more to Allen than everybody realized.
February 2, 2011 at 3:08 PM
Paul Allen’s mobile phone productivity startup, Kiha Software, is going through a few changes.
Last week, Kiha laid off an undisclosed number of its employees and on Monday it ended a public beta test of its software for organizing contacts and other information on Android-based mobile phones.
Allen invested $20 million in the venture before its “Aro Mobile” application was unveiled at November’s Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco. The software received attention from national media outlets.
Kiha’s chief executive and co-founder, former Microsoft manager John Lazarus, stepped down later in November. Kiha’s website now lists Chris Purcell — vice president of technology at Allen’s Vulcan umbrella company — as its top executive.
Spokesman David Postman said Allen isn’t folding the company. He wouldn’t comment on whether the company has been shopped to potential buyers.
“We’re going through an ongoing assessment of what the best way to deliver that product is,” Postman said. “The company still operates. We’ve got dozens of people working there who are working hard to figure out the best way to get this in the hands of consumers.”
A news release issued last fall announcing Aro’s public debut said it was “was born out of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s vision for a more intelligent mobile experience and was developed by Kiha Software during nearly three years of work by a team of nearly sixty talented professionals in Seattle, Washington.”
December 28, 2010 at 4:43 PM
Mercer Island billionaire Paul Allen today renewed his effort to sue Apple, Google, Facebook, eBay, AOL and other companies for patent infringement.
Allen’s case was rejected on Dec. 10 by a federal judge in Seattle who said it was too vague. U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman told Allen he had until Dec. 28 to file an amended suit.
Just meeting the deadline, Allen filed an expanded version of the original suit with more details of how the companies allegedly infringed. The filing also includes 40 exhibits, many of which are screenshots of Web sites with modules highlighted.
Here’s the filing: 2010-12-28 Interval First Amended Complaint for Patent Infringement (2).pdf
The companies being sued declined to comment on the allegations when the suit was first filed in late August.
Experts have said Allen’s case is a longshot but the potential payoff is large – perhaps $500 million or more if he wins.
Defendants named in the suit are Apple, Google, Facebook, eBay, AOL, Netflix, Yahoo, Google’s YouTube, OfficeMax, Office Depot and Staples.
Patents at issue in the case were generated by Interval Research, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based research venture that Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, and Xerox veteran David Liddle started in 1992. Allen closed it down in 2000.
Allen’s suit alleges that his patents cover, among other things, systems that automatically call up and display related content. The approach is widely used by online retailers and other sites across the Web.
For instance, when viewing a product on Apple’s iTunes store, the store automatically suggests related content that may be of interest. The suit filed today argues that this infringes on at least 20 claims made by a patent Allen holds.
Here’s the exhibit submitted to illustrate the Apple violations:
September 28, 2010 at 1:41 PM
Microsoft co-founder turned entrepreneur and Seahawks owner Paul Allen is getting a bit more public.
He has started Twittering, with a post on Sept. 22 that offers a glimpse into the secret life of the Mercer Island billionaire:
“In Kona working on the book …. and Adriana has killer rellenos…”
Today he posted an item about a symposium at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, and gave kudos to Seahawks fans and coach Pete Carroll:
“We couldn’t have done it Sunday without the crowd. Chargers saw what the 12th Man is all about. Congrats coach.”
Among the people Allen’s following on the service are his old pal Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Al Gore, Peter Gabriel, Rufus Wainwright, Carroll and players on his teams: the Seahawks’ Matt Hasselbeck and the Blazers’ Greg Oden and Brandon Roy.
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