Bill Gates high school friend and co-founder of the world’s largest software maker Paul Allen has traditionally taken up far fewer column inches in the press. The 61-year-old billionaire often described as “Microsoft’s other mogul” wouldn’t have it any other way.
Here are 8 Facts you didn’t know about Paul Allen – “Microsoft Billionaire”,
1. He Co-Founded Microsoft
Like Gates, Paul Allen is a college drop-out. He attended Washington State University for two years before leaving to become a programmer. That decision clearly hasn’t hindered his success: Allen has a net worth of $15.8 billion per the most recent Forbes 400 rich list, making him the 26th wealthiest person in America.
2. He purchased the seahawks in 1997
Allen developed a fondness for his hometown team over the years and purchased the franchise in 1997 after former owner Ken Behring had threatened to move the team to Southern California.
The Seattle Seahawks are one of three teams under Allen’s ownership. He purchased the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers in 1988 and owns a minority stake in the Seattle Sounders FC soccer team.
3. His lifetime giving totals more than $1.8 billion
Through his Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Allen is one of the world’s leading philanthropists. He’s supported several innovative initiatives, including a $26 million gift to build Washington State University’s School for Global Animal Health, a $300 million donation to expand the Allen Institute for Brain Science, a $100 million pledge to help tackle the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and a $100 million gift to create the new Allen Institute for Cell Science.
4. His passions include aviation
Aside from sports, Allen’s passions include aviation. He funded SpaceShip-One, the first private aircraft to successfully put a civilian in suborbital space, earning him and designer Burt Rutan the Ansari X-Prize in 2004. Now, his Stratolaunch Systems is aiming for a 2016 test flight of what would be the world’s largest airplane, one designed to launch satellites from mid-air into low-earth orbit.
5. He’s a musician
Allen is one multi-talented mogul. Last summer he and his band the Underthinkers released their debut blues-rock album, Everywhere At Once. The Microsoft billionaire plays a mean electric guitar, with accompaniment from friends like Joe Walsh of the Eagles and Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. He’s also an Emmy winner: his Vulcan Productions film company won the award for Rx for Survival–A Global Health Challenge. His 2011 memoir Idea Man was a New York Times bestseller.
6. He funded the EMP Museum
Allen’s dedication to preserving history doesn’t end with airplanes. He funds the EMP Museum, a collection of contemporary pop culture artifacts in the shadow of the Space Needle in his home city of Seattle.
A 15-minute drive away is his Living Computer Museum, showcasing vintage computers, many the size of small cars and restored so they hum and spurt out warm air as they would’ve in the 1960s.
7. He beat Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1982
Allen’s a survivor. He beat Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1982, leaving Microsoft in the process. In 2009, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and underwent chemotherapy. Said his sister and business partner Jody Allen in a statement at the time: “For those who know Paul’s story, you know he beat Hodgkin’s a little more than 25 years ago, and he is optimistic he can beat this, too.” So far, so good.
8. He likes his toys
And why shouldn’t he? Every programming genius turned philanthropic renaissance man deserves a little down time. His 400 foot super-yacht, the Octopus, must be seen to be believed (ditto its two on-board helicopters and 10-man submarine). Allen’s Mercer Island, Wash. home is also a playground, and includes a basketball court and indoor pool with waterslide. He took 60 Minutes‘ Lesley Stahl on a rare tour in 2011. Check out the video here.