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MS Co-founder Paul Allen Bitter Towards Bill Gates

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 37 comments

He has billions and a story to go along with them.

Paul Allen is the co-founder of Microsoft. He was there in the very beginning, when it was just him and Bill Gates. He was there when he came up with the name Micro-Soft as a marriage between microprocessors and software. Now, Paul Allen is telling his story in a book titled, "Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-founder of Microsoft."

Vanity Fair has reprinted an excerpt from his upcoming book that gives Paul Allen's view on the early years. Some parts on Bill Gates aren't exactly the most complimentary, but the overall message is that he was an exceptional force behind Microsoft.

Here are some interesting bits on the interactions between Gates and Allen:

From the time we’d started together in Massachusetts, I’d assumed that our partnership would be a 50-50 proposition. But Bill had another idea. “It’s not right for you to get half,” he said. “You had your salary at MITS while I did almost everything on BASIC without one back in Boston. I should get more. I think it should be 60-40.”

At first I was taken aback. But as I pondered it, Bill’s position didn’t seem unreasonable. I’d been coding what I could in my spare time, and feeling guilty that I couldn’t do more, but Bill had been instrumental in packing our software with “more features per byte of memory than any other BASIC we know,” as I’d written for Computer Notes. All in all, I thought, a 60-40 split might be fair.

A short time later, we licensed BASIC to NCR for $175,000. Even with half the proceeds going to Ed Roberts, that single fee would pay five or six programmers for a year.

Bill’s intensity was nonstop, and when he asked me for a walk-and-talk one day, I knew something was up. We’d gone a block when he cut to the chase: “I’ve done most of the work on BASIC, and I gave up a lot to leave Harvard,” he said. “I deserve more than 60 percent.”

“How much more?”

“I was thinking 64-36.”

Microsoft was a high-stress environment because Bill drove others as hard as he drove himself. He was growing into the taskmaster who would prowl the parking lot on weekends to see who’d made it in. People were already busting their tails, and it got under their skin when Bill hectored them into doing more. Bob Greenberg, a Harvard classmate of Bill’s whom we’d hired, once put in 81 hours in four days, Monday through Thursday, to finish part of the Texas Instruments BASIC. When Bill touched base toward the end of Bob’s marathon, he asked him, “What are you working on tomorrow?”

Bob said, “I was planning to take the day off.”

And Bill said, “Why would you want to do that?” He genuinely couldn’t understand it; he never seemed to need to recharge.

There was also another story about how Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer were trying to dilute Allen's equity in the company while he was out fighting cancer. Some of the tales told in the excerpt do vilify Gates somewhat, but Allen did write about their duo, "Our great string of successes had married my vision to his unmatched aptitude for business."

Although the book hasn't yet been released, Bill Gates has issued a statement about Allen's memoirs: "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."

"Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-founder of Microsoft" is scheduled to go on sale on April 17. Read the excerpt here.

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  • 0 Hide
    damasvara , April 3, 2011 9:29 AM
    Seems fair enough... I think :p 
  • 4 Hide
    Thunderfox , April 3, 2011 10:58 AM
    Bill's portion of the profits for BASIC should certainly have been proportional to his contribution to it, but the bigger question is about Paul Allen's contribution to everything after that. If he was still getting 36% at a point when he was doing substantially more for the company, that would certainly be unfair.

    But cry me a river, the guy is still a billionaire. He'll just have to make do with a few less billion than he might have had.
  • 2 Hide
    blibba , April 3, 2011 11:43 AM
    Thunderfox...the guy is still a billionaire. He'll just have to make do with a few less billion than he might have had.


    Quite!
  • -2 Hide
    beayn , April 3, 2011 12:42 PM
    He's complaining because he wasn't doing much of the work and didn't get a bigger share? He should have quit his job and worked full time in the company to maintain his higher share... it's his mistake, not Bill's.
  • 5 Hide
    Kaiser_25 , April 3, 2011 12:46 PM
    Ya both have more money than any of us will ever have...BUT id rather them than some 'Paris Hilton' or 'Britney Spears', these guys at least contributed to our society.
  • 1 Hide
    atuk , April 3, 2011 1:03 PM
    I agree with thunderfox, and yes he is still a billionair. He has got more than enough to last him his life at the same life style standards he has been enjoying. I would like to read the whole story though.
  • -1 Hide
    chronicbint , April 3, 2011 1:12 PM
    Why write a book, not like he needs the money, ASW.
  • 4 Hide
    cookoy , April 3, 2011 2:24 PM
    the quotes above don't reflect much bitterness in him. he just tell the stories as there were by his recollection. let the readers do the judging.
  • 0 Hide
    mitch074 , April 3, 2011 3:13 PM
    could someone explain to me why, every time I log into this site, the comment I just entered is forgotten, forcing me to re-type it entirely?

    If I'm not mistaken, the time frame evoked is around the time Bill Gates was stealing CPU time from Harvard's mainframe, to program said BASIC, for an amount of more than $4000 (which was, at the time, a sizable sum). He was actually arrested, charged and kicked out of Harvard (he didn't actually drop out).

    exacting taskmaster with a business sense or a greedy thief, one may wonder - probably a bit of both.
  • 0 Hide
    jsc , April 3, 2011 4:38 PM
    I wonder what would have happened if Paul Allen had not decided to go along.
  • 0 Hide
    officeguy , April 3, 2011 4:49 PM
    beaynHe's complaining because he wasn't doing much of the work and didn't get a bigger share? He should have quit his job and worked full time in the company to maintain his higher share... it's his mistake, not Bill's.

    You never want to quit your full time job unless it is a sure thing. Maybe he had his doubts. However, if Bill put in the time in like he did in the beginning then I believe he desevered that split. If I remeber correctly, he still put in 12 to 14 hours a day when he had his family. When you say "Microsoft" you automatically think of Bill Gates not Paul Allen!!
  • -2 Hide
    back_by_demand , April 3, 2011 4:53 PM
    I have no sympathy for Paul allen, he agreed to the concession when the money involved was basically chump-change.

    That tells me he had no vision or faith that it would become huge otherwise he would have fought for a higher percentage himself.

    Another reason he deserves no sympathy is the fact he is a multi-billionaire, it's hard to feel sorry for someone who earns more money in the time it takes to wipe his ass than the rest of us earn in a year.

    Paul Allen's definition of being hard done by is only having 3 yachts, restricting himself to the other 16 bedrooms and making the tough choice between having a swimming pool full of vintage champage or HP printer ink.
  • 1 Hide
    megamanx00 , April 3, 2011 5:04 PM
    I already new Bill there was a bit of a jerk and a workaholic. I do think he screwed Allen a bit there but then Allen let himself. You have to remember, Paul Allen also thought Value America was a great idea and ..... well ......
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , April 3, 2011 5:04 PM
    Looks like a nice behind the scene's view of how a person becomes a billionare. Being extremely talented, driven, working as hard as you possibly can for long periods of time and pushing everyone around you to succeed as well. Looks like it paid off for Bill.
  • 1 Hide
    bhaberle , April 3, 2011 5:43 PM
    The above all sounded fair to me. =) At least he didn't pull a Zuckerburg on the guy, provided that the movie the Social Network at least has some truth to it.
  • 0 Hide
    Benihana , April 3, 2011 7:03 PM
    I'd like to purchase his book now!
  • 0 Hide
    clonazepam , April 3, 2011 7:11 PM
    These guys are living the American dream. The fact they could even have these discussions of 60-40 or whichever is awesome testament to freedom, dedication, and hard work.
  • -1 Hide
    phantomtrooper , April 3, 2011 8:02 PM
    Paul Allen is billionaire. He doesn't need more money. Bill Gates is doing good things with his money, so let him have it.
  • -1 Hide
    NuclearShadow , April 3, 2011 11:22 PM
    Why oh why couldn't I have been born as one of their sons? Even Allen's would have been good enough. I could have a easy do almost nothing job at Microsoft right now... instead of my easy do nothing job at *****. I could go home after a hard days of "work" and sleep on a pile of money next to my beautiful geeky girlfriends who love to debate and discuss philosophy
    while playing RPGs, and strategy games. Damn you cruel fate! Damn you!
  • 1 Hide
    Flameout , April 3, 2011 11:25 PM
    phantomtrooperPaul Allen is billionaire. He doesn't need more money. Bill Gates is doing good things with his money, so let him have it.

    bill gates only donates because he wants good pr. you'd have to be pretty naive to think otherwise
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