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Friday, 29 September, 2000, 15:51 GMT
Paul Allen: A profile

The billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen, is unlikely to find himself at a loose end after quitting the board of the software giant.

In recent years he has been stepping back from direct day-to-day involvement in the firm, instead getting involved with an ever-growing list of internet and entertainment based start-ups.

Paul was instrumental in the creation of Microsoft and has played an important role in the success and direction of the company throughout the years

Bill Gates

Allen, who persuaded Bill Gates to drop out of Harvard to join him in creating Microsoft in 1975, has stakes in more than 140 firms.

As the world's third richest man (estimated worth $36bn) his venture capital firm, Vulcan Ventures, has been one of the biggest funders of the internet age.

Allen will step down on 9 November, after which time he will devote more time to other business investments and charitable works.

Seattle school days

In a statement announcing that he was leaving the board Mr Allen said: "Being an active board member for a dynamic and successful company such as Microsoft is a time intensive role and one I have enjoyed for many years."

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, paid tribute to his friend of 30 years: "Paul was instrumental in the creation of Microsoft and has played an important role in the success and direction of the company throughout the years."

Allen became fascinated with computers while a student at Seattle's Lakeside High School in the late 1960s.

On his web site he is quoted as recalling "I wanted to look at every computer I could, understand the software."

Later, while a programmer at Honeywell in Boston, he persuaded his old school friend Bill Gates to team up and write software for one of the world's first personal computers.

Seattle Seahawks

The software they wrote was in demand from all the early computer makers, prompting Allen and Gates to set up what was initially called Micro Soft.

Allen headed the research and new product development side, helping develop products such as MS-DOS, Word and Windows.

He left his full-time role in 1983 after being diagnosed as having Hodgkin's disease.

But he remained on the board and is still the second largest shareholder in Microsoft despite the sale of 58 million shares during the current year. His remaining stake is worth about $12bn.

Allen also owns the Seattle Seahawks franchise in America's National Football League and the Portland Trailblazers basketball team.

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16 Aug 99 | The Company File
Billionaire Allen's Net swoop
08 Sep 00 | Business
Hollywood internet bubble is popped
16 Jun 00 | Business
Tech billionaires dominate rich list
14 Jan 00 | Business
Profile: Bill Gates
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