Paul Allen: Gates was reason I left Microsoft

Allen speaks about the Allen Brain Atlas in 2006.

Shocking news: A computer billionaire might not be the best at dealing with people.

According to a new book by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the stress of dealing with an increasingly ruthless Bill Gates was the reason he left the software company in 1982.

In the upcoming memoir "Idea Man," Allen, one of the world’s richest men due to his billions of dollars in Microsoft stock, paints a picture of his friend and colleague Gates as an ambitious workaholic who frowned upon Allen’s more relaxed ways. Though Allen publicly left the company to deal with Hodgkin’s disease, he says that clashes with Gates and the company culture at Microsoft contributed to his dissatisfaction.

In a key scene, Allen notes how he stumbled upon Gates and current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer discussing, in the wake of Allen’s diagnosis, how to water down his equity:

"I had helped start the company and was still an active member of management, though limited by my illness, and now my partner and my colleague were scheming to rip me off. It was mercenary opportunism, plain and simple."

Allen does report that Gates later apologized, and tried to convince him to stay at the company.

Throughout the book, Allen, now an investor and philanthropist who owns the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers, does take pains to not that it is not a tell-all meant to slam Gates, whom he calls "everything you’d want from a friend, caring and concerned."

The two men have been friends since they attended the same Seattle secondary school. In a written statement, Gates said that there were no hard feelings about the book. "While my recollection of many of these events may differ from Paul’s," he wrote, "I value his friendship and the important contributions he made to the world of technology and at Microsoft." (via WSJ)


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