Striking back at critics, Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft Corp. who later left the firm, defends his “tell-all” book in which he attacks best friend Bill Gates and Microsoft colleague Steve Ballmer. Allen makes his remarks in an interview for the April 17 edition of CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
Here’s the skinny from the CBS News press release:
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen wrote his book, “Idea Man,” out next week, to set the record straight for technology history and not as revenge against his former Microsoft partner Bill Gates. That’s what Allen tells Lesley Stahl in his first reaction to the furor caused by published excerpts of his upcoming book, in which he casts a harsh light on Gates. The in-depth interview with the billionaire, his first in over a decade, will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday, April 17 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Among the things Allen writes about during the early years of Microsoft is that some days working with Gates was “like being in hell,” and that Gates and Microsoft’s future CEO Steve Ballmer plotted to dilute his shares in the company. Allen eventually left the company owning enough stock to make him a multi-billionaire, and one of the richest men on Earth.
“It’s not about [revenge]. I just felt it was like an important part of technology history and I should tell it like it happened,” says Allen. “I hope people understand and respect that,” he tells Stahl. He also says the book’s timing should not blunt the high-profile charity work Gates has been doing. “The timing had nothing to do with the many wonderful things Bill has done…the timing was because I wanted to see if I could do it and hopefully be alive to see it published,” says Allen, who was writing the book in 2009 while under treatment for Stage 4 lymphoma.
Allen writes in the book that during his cancer treatment,Gates visited him. “Bill came here to my house multiple times…there’s a bond there that can’t be denied and…I think we both feel that,” says Allen. The two men have not discussed the book yet, and when asked whether he thinks he will need to apologize to Gates, Allen replies, “I don’t think so.” Watch an excerpt.
In the interview, Allen also touches on the patent suit he’s recently filed against major tech companies, including AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook and Google. He has been roundly criticized for the suit. Allen responds: “I guess I find [the criticism] somewhat surprising, because I invested a huge amount to develop these ideas.”
60 MINUTES cameras were allowed into Allen’s world: his home, his office, and his varied collections that include the guitar Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock, vintage war planes and his 300-ft. yacht with its own submarine - footage of which will be featured in a Webcast at 60MinutesOvertime.com on Sunday.
I haven’t read (or seen) “Idea Man” yet, so it’s hard to comment. But there have been many instances of tech startups where co-founders later drifted apart, including Apple’s Steve Job and Steve Wozniak. For those who are interested in the early days of one of the essential companies in the history of computing, Mr. Allen’s volume will likely be must reading. (Irony, of course, will attend said readings on Apple’s iPad or Amazon.com’s Kindle.)