| SEATTLE, April 30
SEATTLE, April 30 Paul Allen, the lesser known
co-founder of Microsoft Corp, has struggled for decades
to make his mark as a business mogul beyond the software company
he started with Bill Gates.
Since he quit Microsoft in 1983, the quiet Seattle native
has lost billions of dollars on ill-conceived or mistimed
technology investments, and he has been mocked as a juvenile
playboy manqué for spending lavishly on giant yachts and
off-beat projects like a Frank Gehry-designed rock museum.
But in recent years, Allen's ventures in decidedly low-tech
sectors - sports teams, commercial real estate and energy
pipelines - have come to look prescient.
Together with a new round of tech investments and an
ambitious philanthropy program, they may yet establish Allen as
much more than Gates' lucky junior partner.
Allen's NBA Portland Trail Blazers and NFL Seattle Seahawks,
both purchased years ago for what appeared to be non-business
reasons, are now worth many times what he paid for them. Even
his part-ownership of the Seattle Sounders soccer team, which
draws more fans than any other franchise in its league, is
looking like a good bet.
At the same time, Allen has all but single-handedly
transformed the once-shabby South Lake Union district near
downtown Seattle into the Pacific Northwest's hippest tech
outpost, anchored by Amazon.com Inc.
And a recent foray into the energy business yielded a $2.25
billion return from a $200 million investment in Plains All
These wins are changing the perception of the shy
60-year-old, a two-time cancer survivor who rarely appears in
"He is under-appreciated in Seattle," said David Brewster,
long-time civic leader, publisher of local news website
Crosscut.com and founder of the Seattle Weekly newspaper. "He's
remote and reclusive. There's too much Howard Hughes in the way
he behaves for Seattle truly to appreciate a lot of the good
that he does."