Paul Allen Dishes the Gossip on Bill Gates (and His Yacht) on 60 Minutes

Illustration for article titled Paul Allen Dishes the Gossip on Bill Gates (and His Yacht) on 60 Minutes

Yesterday, a new book on Bill Gates and Microsoft hit store shelves—Idea Man. Only this one has been penned by Microsoft co-creator Paul Allen, who appeared on 60 Minutes to talk about the early days of Microsoft; the computers they were writing software on, and just what went wrong along the way between the two co-creators.

Key things to keep an eye out for (other than Allen's gnarly ring, and some pretty rad beards) are his recollections on their raging arguments, and how he overheard Gates and Steve Ballmer discussing how to cut Allen out of the company.


It's not the prettiest picture Allen paints, although clearly the blood between him and Gates isn't entirely bad; Allen has signed up to Bill Gates' The Giving Pledge initiative, which has seen over 50 billionaires commit to giving away half their wealth to charity. Still, one wonders what, fi anything prompted the suddenly public animus.

Allen's almost grotesque spending of his considerable wealth is also well documented in 60 Minutes. Presenter Lesley Stahl says:

"Allen has spent his wealth on a hodgepodge of many interests. For instance, he plays electric guitar, so he has his own personal rock 'n roll band to jam with, and he bought Jimi Hendrix's Woodstock guitar for $750,000.

He likes science fiction, and subsidizes an antenna farm listening for aliens. An avid reader, he showed us a Shakespeare Folio he keeps at his estate.

He likes football, so he bought an NFL team; he also likes basketball and bought an NBA team.

He's a movie buff, so he invested in DreamWorks, the Hollywood studio. He wants to travel, so he built himself a yacht longer than a football field, equipped with its own submarine."


She does point out though that he:

"has spent over a billion dollars on philanthropy, including building an institute to study the brain, and, like Gates, he has pledged to give most of his money away to charity."



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You know, a lot of people in the public (who know little of Gates other than that he started MS and has a crap load of money) bag on Gates for supposedly not coming up with original ideas. But I'll tell you what, I don't give a rat's ass. There has never been a single person in all of history who has managed to get so much money into philanthropy as this guy.

People who are "anti-Gates" talk about his charity works like they are not such a big thing, but they are. The Gates Foundation is enormous. And he didn't just throw money at problems, he (along with people he hired and directed) came up with new ways to measure success in the (many) programs they sponsor. In short, he brought much greater accountability to non-profit programs. This, in addition to his leadership actions in giving away billions of his own personal fortune, is directly responsible for the biggest charitable gifts in history. (Even accounting for inflation.)

Talk about an original idea....