Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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#35 Paul Allen $23.0B

Random fact: Jimi Hendrix fan, spent years learning how to play "Purple Haze."

Overview

Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975. Since leaving the company in 1983, he is calculated to have reduced his 28 percent stake to less than 2 percent, collecting more than $20 billion along the way. Through Vulcan Capital, the proceeds have been reinvested into real estate, private equity and stocks.

As of Oct. 17, 2017:
Last change +$16.9M (+0.1%)
YTD change +$2.78B (+13.7%)
Industry Technology
Biggest asset MSFT US Equity
Citizenship United States
Age 64
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Paul Allen's net worth of $23.0B can buy ...

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troy ounces of gold
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barrels of crude oil

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of the GDP of the United States
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of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
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of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
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of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
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of U.S. existing home sales
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times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Cash
Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

Along with his Microsoft stock, Allen's fortune consists of closely held assets concentrated in real estate, energy and private equity investments. His stake in Microsoft hasn't been reported in SEC filings since 2000, when it fell below 5 percent and he held about 326 million split-adjusted shares.

Based on his pattern of selling Microsoft shares before that point, a lifestyle that included purchases of mega-yachts and sports teams and the need to raise liquidity for investments, Allen probably holds about one-third that amount, according to a 2012 interview with two people who have knowledge of his investments and asked not to be identified because the matter is private. At that level of ownership, he would have collected more than $1 billion in dividends after taxes since mid-2000.

Through Vulcan Capital, Allen owns almost 1.4 million square feet of office, retail and industrial space in Washington, Oregon, California and New York. These are valued on data compiled by Real Capital Analytics, a real estate information company, as are loans Allen holds on the properties as of July 2017. Private equity investments account for billions of dollars more and are valued based on the opinion of the persons familiar. Later investments in Uber and Palantir Technologies are not valued because of a lack of disclosure.

In addition, historical gains in DreamWorks ($700 million), Ticketmaster ($300 million), Plains All America ($1 billion) and the sale of Amazon.com's Seattle headquarters ($1.15 billion) offset much of the $8 billion in losses from his early bet on the expansion of broadband. The value of his other investable assets is based on an analysis of dividend income, share sales, taxes, philanthropy and market performance.

Allen declined to comment on his net worth through his spokespeople.

Biography

Birthdate: 1/21/1953
Family: Single, No children
Education: Washington State University

The self-described "idea man" behind Microsoft, Paul Allen credits his success to a fascination with technology and the fortuitous access to an early mainframe computer at the private school he attended. His ability to tinker with computers the size of a room opened doors to programming opportunities that provided the proving grounds for the development of Microsoft, the company he co-founded with schoolmate Bill Gates in 1975.

Microsoft is one of the biggest companies in the U.S. and its Windows operating system reigns as the most installed brain on desktop computers. Allen remains closely identified with the company three decades after leaving over management disputes with Gates.

In the years since, he has employed the more than $20 billion in proceeds from his sale of Microsoft stock to pursue large-scale investments through closely held Vulcan. At times he has been too early, losing $8 billion on cable companies in the 2000s in pursuit of a "wired world" vision. More timely was his vast investment in commercial and residential space in downtown Seattle, which has yielded billions of dollars in value. Other notable trades have included a $1 billion gain on Plains All America in 2011, $700 million on DreamWorks and $300 million on Ticketmaster.

He has since attempted to commercialize the space travel industry. His efforts include the successful deployment of SpaceShipOne in 2004, an investment in Stratolaunch Systems and a licensing deal with Virgin Galactic.

A two-time cancer survivor who never married, Allen enjoys a lavish lifestyle. He has sailed to Antarctica and the Northwest Passage on one of his three mega-yachts, purchased stakes in three sports teams and owns personal property in Malibu, Manhattan and Mercer Island, Washington. He also has donated more than $1.7 billion to charity, including funding brain science, and music and arts education in the Pacific Northwest.

Milestones
  • 1953 Paul Gardner Allen is born in northern Seattle.
  • 1971 Attends Washington State University.
  • 1975 Micro-Soft formed; Gates insists on 60 percent share to Allen's 40 percent.
  • 1977 Microsoft incorporates. Allen owns 36 percent.
  • 1983 Resigns from Microsoft. Remains on board of directors until 1985.
  • 1986 Microsoft begins trading at a list price of $21.
  • 1997 Purchases National Football League's Seattle Seahawks.
  • 2012 Sells South Lake Union Seattle real estate to Amazon for $1.16 billion.