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Last Updated: August 8, 2015  1,384 views

Why Paul Allen left Microsoft ?

in: Technology

Paul_allen_Bill_Gates.jpgToday I will tell you the story of Paul Allen. He was the man behind the foundation of the greatest software company of the world, Microsoft. He co-founded MicroSoft with Bill Gates in New Mexico, in 1975. Initially they used to sell BASIC programming language interpreter. In 1980, Microsoft under the leadership of Paul bought an operating system called 86-DOS for $50,000. They had to supply OS to IBM. and due to IBM deadlines, they did not have enough time to develop an operating system from scratch so they therefore purchased the fully functional QDOS and reworked the code to fit IBM’s needs. After the successful delivery of DOS operating system, Microsoft won a contract to supply DOS to use as the operating system in IBM’s new PC. So the contribution of Paul Allen in the growth of Microsoft was very critical. In 1983, he became ill and doctors told him that he was suffering from cancer. Due to his illness he couldn’t take part in management of Microsoft. In Nov 2000, a big news came and Allen officially resigned from his position on the Microsoft board of directors and old most of his shares in Microsoft Now let’s come to the point, why Paul Allen left Microsoft ? what was the reason ? Had Bill Gates cheated him ? Let’s see.

After searching on Google for the reason of departure of Paul Allen from Microsoft, I found an article by Robert X. Cringely, who was one of the good friends of Paul Allen. During early days of Microsoft, Paul Allen was the big boss. Allen visited Albuquerque to demonstrate that first BASIC interpreter to the MITs people. Paul was also offered the job as head of software for MITs. Bill Gates was no where near to his popularity, talents and business skills.

microsoft-1978.jpgDuring the same time, Microsoft got the contract of Operating Systems for the IBM new PCs. Both Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer took part in those first talks with IBM and they simply followed the instructions of Paul Allen. As development of new Operating System continued, Allen’s health began to deteriorate and doctors told him that he was suffering from cancer. Now even IBM team was worried that Allen might not survive. But Allen was not thinking about his disease, rather he was trying hard to complete the project. Suddenly tragic incident happened with Paul. During one of those last long nights working to deliver DOS, Paul Allen heard Gates and Ballmer discussing his health and talking about how to get his Microsoft shares back if Allen were to die. As a result of this betrayal, he lost his trust over his friends and his illness became more serious and doctors suggested him complete bed rest and no further work.

Many people believe that Paul was forced to leave Microsoft due to his illness. But this is not right, he left Microsoft due to betrayal of Bill and Steve. In 2000 when he returned to MicroSoft, he had around (138+168) million shares so noone could force him to leave the company. But he left the world’s greatest company because for him trust, faith and friendship is more important than money.

  • 1

    Hey Abhi,

    Few days back, I read an article about college dropout billionaires. Bill Gates was one among them. While discussing with friends we had an argument weather people can become rich without betraying anybody ??? Many argued Bill Gates is gunine and he didnt betray anyone…but after reading this article he is also the one …………….

    Mmk on May 27th, 2008
  • 2

    What do the co-founders of Apple and Microsoft have in common? It may hint at Apple’s future…

    Besides being extraordinarily wealthy and influential, the co-founders of these two long-term IT giants have one other important life event in common.

    Now before you think I’m talking of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, you might have to revise that thought. The lesser known co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen, is whom I have in mind, and I’m surprised not to have seen others make the same comparison I am going make between Allen, and Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

    In some respects, Allen has more in common with the other Steve (Wozniak) as both left the companies they co-founded many years ago after seeing themselves enjoy considerable financial success.

    But the fact is that Paul Allen and Steve Jobs have both faced and survived life-threatening cancers, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in the case of Allen and panreatic cancer (islet cell neuroendocrine tumor) in the form of Jobs. Wozniak also faced a life-threatening event in the form of an aircraft crash. describes Woz’s experience this way:

    “Woz’s ultralight plane crashed in Berkeley, California in 1981 and Woz spent 5 weeks in the hospital with amnesia. His amnesia wore off but he figured out something very important at that point: stop busting your hump for the company, live a little. For the next twenty years, Woz followed that mantra to a T.”

    Jobs took off August to recover and has just returned to work from current accounts. It’s too early to learn how his recent crisis has affected him, although there is a body of knowledge available which discusses short and long-term effects of confronting such diseases.

    As a psychologist, I’m in no position to make any prediction about someone I have never met and have no special knowledge of other than what anyone who reads the business magazines and webpages would know, in addition to books written about the history of Apple. Lanzmayer’s “Apple 2.0” is especially interesting in this respect, as is Kemper’s “Code Name Ginger” on Dean Kamen’s invention of the Segway personal transporter.

    The results of Paul Allen’s crisis is more available given the length of time that has now passed. Some of the activities he has undertaken are of direct relevance to me as a psychologist with a special interest in Virtual Reality applications in clinical psychology.

    Like Woz, Paul Allen faced a life crisis and left Microsoft 20 years ago, following his treatment for Hodgkin’s disease, becoming a philanthropist and investor. A year ago, in Seattle, he invested $100 million in the Allen Institute for Brain Sciences.

    His involvement with Virtual Reality has come from his funding research into applications in pain management for burns victims and treating WTC 9/11 sufferers resistant to the usual means of intervening in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    And now we have Steve Jobs who has also faced a life crisis.

    It clearly doesn’t require a crisis to become involved in philanthropic causes, as witnessed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

    So will we see and hear of a different Steve Jobs on his return to Apple, or will employees wait until the next elevator if they see Steve enter one as legend has it?

    Has his involvement with Pixar which has produced images, characters and stories to delight young and old alike offered him a buffer against the need for very public philanthropy, unlike Woz, Allen and Gates? That he has offered the world a gift, not just the Mac and the concept of personal computing with the Apple II in the 70s and 80s, but films which tell inspiring stories of change and survival, even if they are in animated form.

    Jobs possesses a creative vision which is perhaps at variance in style an application compared with the others mentioned in the entry. His desire to back his judgment and get 100% out of his colleagues and employees has no doubt led to Apple’s many successes and occasional failure such the Cube. How he handled that might offer us some insight as to how he will handle his recent crisis.

    Do we want a softer, gentler Steve, as compared to the unpleasant “hatchet job” protrayals of him in books such as Deutchman’s “The Second Coming of Steve Jobs”? Apparently, Jobs himself referred to this book using the term hatchet job, as aggressively reported by John Dvorak in Forbes (2000).

    Will such a Steve Jobs be a better leader at Apple, in terms of guiding the introduction of new “insanely great products”? Or will a changed Steve have other things on his mind? Will his return to Apple see him wanting to get back to normal as soon as possible, or will he be more determined than ever to make a difference with Apple and to a lesser extent Pixar – lesser since he seems to have a less daily hands-on role according to reports. Will he drive his Apple teams harder than ever, or take a different leadership role?

    Gates himself has shifted his role in recent years, leaving the managerial running of the ship to Steve Ballmer while he focuses on software achitecture. Both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are due to turn 50 in the next 18 months and it will be curious to see if this has any impact on either of them, especially Steve coming so close to his recent challenging experience.

    I don’t know the answers and his survival could see him move along a variety of paths. It’s curious that almost all of the talk about his recent health challenge have focussed on Apple’s leadership and succession plans, rather than how Steve will apply himself once he returns.

    It’s as if this has been an “off-limits” discussion, or perhaps some form of collective wishing away of the thought of a Steveless Apple.

    Whatever the case, and without wanting to appear too maudlin, I wish Steve the best, and hope whatever happens, Apple continues to bring us innovative hardware and software.

    Jagat on June 7th, 2008
  • 3

    I worked for Microsoft during the 99-2001 years….The most Ultimate Experience!! Paul Allens return was not even a blip inour email… No one that I know of dis liked Paul….we were just busy as hell….we worked night and day to get the enormous 2000 project out and fixed on hundreds of thousands of networks! None of us had anytime for personalities…we lived and breathed what we beleived in…our Softeware!

    ME on January 18th, 2009
  • 4

    I wish Steve Jobs a full recovery, his contributions to society is that of a Thomas Edison or Ben Franklin. In a selfish way I would love to see what else his brilliant mind might do next. I thank him for all that he has already given us as I type this on my iPad. We may have the greatest inventors in the United States but great inventions are truly only produced by few,
    Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniac,, Bill Gates and Paul Allen, and the yahoo guys and google guys. I want to thank all of these guys.

    Judy Blye on August 4th, 2011
  • 5

    This is just a propehecy to make me down. Paul and me were great guys. We had rocked the world. Paul left microsoft because I loved his wife. His wife also loved me but Paul didn’t like this. So, he decided to make be out of microsoft in 1988 but he could not. So, he himself left the company.

    This is all true as me, Bill gates is talking here. And one more warning to this website developer “Never ever again write these freaking things or you are going to jail and your website is also going to be closed withing some business days”

    Bill gates on September 24th, 2011
  • 6

    You cannot be the REAL Bill Gates typing so incoherently with so many grammatical errors…and if so I apologize…:). I never understood the betrayal of friends…You live some odd 80 years of life, but the you live eternity in death with all the things you have done, all the possessions you had are gone and you are just a soul, and you soul is stained with all your actions, good and bad.

    Kelly on January 15th, 2013
  • 7

    By the way I never believe anything unless I have seen it or the person tells me face to face. Gossip and rumors spread too fast, and I understanding the hurt that lies can cause do not partake in them. I will read/listen to them but I will not spread them not judge anyone from the lips or fingers of some one else.

    Kelly on January 15th, 2013
  • 8

    Such a fake response from you…

    Harshit Jain on April 3rd, 2016