menu

technology

Paul Allen uses memoir to portray Bill Gates as a bully who sought to deprive him of his share in Microsoft fortune.

Guy Brighton
  • 31 march 2011

Powered by Guardian.co.uk
This article titled “Microsoft co-founder lays bare his battles with Bill Gates” was written by Dominic Rushe, for The Guardian on Wednesday 30th March 2011 16.33 UTC

Bill Gates betrayed his ailing business partner and tried to deprive him of his share of the Microsoft fortune, according to a scathing memoir from Paul Allen, the company’s billionaire co-founder.

Allen portrays the Microsoft mogul as a sarcastic bully who tried to force his founding partner out of the firm and to cut his share in the company as he was recovering from cancer. The book, Idea Man: a Memoir by the co-founder of Microsoft, is set to go on sale on 17 April, and an extract appears in May’s Vanity Fair magazine and has been released online.

Despite Gates’s moves, Allen held on to his Microsoft stake – one that contributed to the lion’s share of what Forbes magazine’s estimates to be a bn (£8.1bn) fortune.

The two were once inseparable and met at Lakeside high school in Seattle where Allen paints a picture of the couple as the original nerds. Allen didn’t fit in amid the golfers and tennis players “who carried their rackets wherever they went”. Then in 1968 he met Gates, another gawky kid who was also spending all his free time hunched over the school’s first computer, an ASR-33 Teletype model.

“His blond hair went all over the place. You could tell three things about Bill Gates pretty quickly. He was really smart. He was really competitive; he wanted to show you how smart he was. And he was really, really persistent.”

At the age of 13 Gates was already poring over Fortune magazine and planning on building a company. When Gates went to Harvard, Allen followed him and the two spent their spare time working on ideas for a software firm.

“I’d assumed that our partnership would be a 50-50 proposition. But Bill had another idea,” Allen writes. Gates had put in more work than Allen, and eventually after some quibbling from Gates, Allen agreed to a 64-36 split. Allen writes that when the relationship soured he wondered again about that split. “I’d been taught that a deal was a deal and your word was your bond. Bill was more flexible,” he writes. Gates pushed deals “as hard and as far as he could”.

Relations worsened as Microsoft took off. Gates would prowl the car park to see who came in on the weekend. He thrived on conflict and sarcasm; he and Allen would argue for hours at a stretch. Then Gates brought in Steve Ballmer, the firm’s current boss, to help manage the company. Gates offered Ballmer 8.75% of the firm, angering other staff and Allen, who had agreed to a far smaller percentage.

In 1982 Allen contracted Hodgkin’s lymphoma. When he returned to work relations with Gates and Ballmer hit a new low. Allen claims the pair undermined him and he overheard them discussing ways of diluting his stake in the firm. “Unable to stand it any longer, I burst in on them and shouted, ‘This is unbelievable! It shows your true character, once and for all,'” he writes.

Ballmer and Gates later apologised but the partnership was over. Allen resigned and Gates tried to buy him out for  a share. Allen refused and said he wouldn’t discuss less than . Gates balked at the price and Allen left with what was to become an enormous fortune. Shares are trading at more than and the company is now worth more than 4bn.

“While my recollection of many of these events may differ from Paul’s, I value his friendship and the important contributions he made to the world of technology and at Microsoft,” Gates said in a written statement given to the Wall Street Journal.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

technology
Trending

Volvo's Self-Driving Trucks Will Soon Be Put To Work In An Underground Mine

Automotive
Automotive Yesterday

Toyota Is Using Sewage To Power Its New Electric Car

A new hydrogen-fueled vehicle is driven by what we flush away

Culture Yesterday

Catch A Concert On This Small Floating Island

A man-made archipelago in Italy is hosting music and art performances

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Design & Architecture Yesterday

DIY Kit Lets You Build Your Own Wooden Bike, Boat Or Caravan

Woodenwidget says its detailed guides are suitable for beginners and experienced woodworkers alike

Design Yesterday

Crash-Friendly Drone Made From LEGOs Is Completely Rebuildable

The clever device offers games, education and the uniquely rewarding experience of destroying your high-flying airship

Fitness / Sport Yesterday

Free Sneakers Given Out To Motivated Marathon Runners

Strava will give the shoes to athletes who run the second half of their race faster than the first

Culture Yesterday

Someone Invented A Robot Just To Serve Trays Of Beef Jerky

Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz, in partnership with Chef's Cut Real Jerky, creates an automated snack delivery system

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

Digital Design Expert: Mobile First Is Dead, Think Mobile Native

Brian Cooper, chief creative officer of OLIVER Group UK, explains how some brands are still playing catch-up to new technology

PSFK Labs Yesterday

The 10 Steps To Discover, Hire, Develop Your Next Leader

PSFK's Future of Work report outlines key steps in the employee development path to empower next-gen leaders

Millennials Yesterday

Why A Social Networking Site Decided To Rebrand

Meetup, a platform that connects like-minded individuals, has taken steps to stay relevant amongst millennials

Work Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: The People-First Workplace Should Borrow From Tradition

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX underline the old-fashioned ideas that deserve a place in the Future of Work

Fashion Yesterday

Handbags Crafted From An Old NFL Stadium

People for Urban Progress is an up-cycling program that tackles the waste problem of big demolitions

Work Yesterday

Tech Job Site Created Just For Those Who Are Older Than 30

A new occupational job board presents a creative solution to age discrimination in the tech world

Europe Yesterday

Architect Turns A Giant Smile Into A Public Exhibition

The structure offers visitors a new perspective of London and creates an immersive environment that integrates structure, surface, space and light

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Children Yesterday

Norwegian Kids Are Using Their Phones To Log Unsafe Street Conditions

Travel Agent is an app that gamifies the reporting of hazardous conditions to improve the safety of children's commute to school

Travel Yesterday

Google Wants To Help You Plan Your Next Trip

A new app curates vacation itineraries and organizes reservation emails to take the work out of planning a getaway

Technology Yesterday

Small Handheld Analyzer Checks Oral Hygiene On The Go

The breath-detecting gadget gives people a quick and easy peek into their dental health

No search results found.