Microsoft co-founder Allen: Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer schemed to rip me off after I got cancer

“Bill Gates schemed to take shares in Microsoft Corp. from his co-founder during the early days of the software company following his partner’s treatment for cancer, according to a new memoir by the billionaire co-founder, Paul Allen,” Nick Wingfield and Robert A. Guth report for The Wall Street Journal. “The book, ‘Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-founder of Microsoft,’ is scheduled to go on sale on April 17. A draft of the memoir was viewed by The Wall Street Journal.”

“In the book, Mr. Allen also positions himself as the spark of many of Microsoft’s most important ideas, playing down Mr. Gates’s role in some cases. Woven throughout the book is a bitterness Mr. Allen expresses for not receiving more credit for his work throughout his career and more shares in Microsoft,” Wingfield and Guth report. “Mr. Allen became one of the world’s richest people from the success of Microsoft under Mr. Gates’s leadership, with the vast majority of his wealth created in the years after he left the company… His early stake in the company created one of the world’s greatest fortunes—he ranks 57th on Forbes magazine’s list of billionaires, with an estimated $13 billion fortune.”

In 1982, “Mr. Allen says he eavesdropped on a discussion in the Microsoft offices in Bellevue, Wash., between Mr. Gates and Steve Ballmer, now the company’s CEO, in which he heard the two men talking about Mr. Allen’s recent lack of productivity and how they might dilute his equity in the company by issuing options to themselves and other shareholders. Mr. Allen said he burst into the room and confronted Messrs. Gates and Ballmer, both of whom later apologized to him and backed down from their plan,” Wingfield and Guth report. “‘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,’ he says in the book. ‘It was mercenary opportunism, plain and simple.'”

Read more in the full article here.

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  1. Did you really expect Ballmer & Gates to be men of honor? The cult of Microsoft is creepy from the head men down. And that’s pretty creepy. Sure some think Apple is a religion too but at least it’s a “religion” that works! When you live in Microsoft’s world you have to falsely justify that existence and make all flaws a feature. Both systems come from completely different philosophical points of view. Windows is a completely cynical OS while the Mac OS is one of hope and optimism.

    And isn’t it amazing they pursue the whole “Windows MUST run on a tablet or bust” stance. Time to jettison all ties to an operating system from the 80’s. They know that if they do that it would equalize and minimalize their position even more. So a new chassis gets strapped to the same Model T undercarriage and flaws therein. No progress here folks, move on!

  2. Busines is business. Cancer is a tragic affliction, but in the corporate world you’re either contributing or you’re not. Shareholders want to see the bottom line going up, not huge paydays to incapacitated executives.

    It’s a pitty Apple’s execs and shareholders aren’t as shrewd. Jobs just continues to cost his company, you shareholders, and myself truckloads of cash as he sits at home and rakes in his monster CEO salary.

        1. Jobs has made it clear that he has no interest in being the richest man in the cemetery. Honestly, is there any doubt that he could demand all the stock options he wanted, just to be in line with Ballmer’s compensation? But, he doesn’t. He’s all about the revolution and innovation. Of course, he has a fiduciary responsibility to the corporation, so he does have to carry a big stick sometimes.

        2. Not quite–it’s only income if he sells some or all of his shares (other companies you might get dividends, but Apple doesn’t do this). Until then he’s not making a cent off of them.

      1. @C1…I despair somedays. I think the plethora of reality shows is to blame for the dumbing down of North America…..that and eating artificially bread mushrooms 🙂

  3. Seriously? This is even a story?

    Lets see a billionaire who left the company in the early 80s before the company even really took off to becoming the behemoth it is today is complaining that two guys were conversing about how much he was contributing to the company 30 years ago?

    Every CEO and top dog at every company stepped on someone’s fingers as they climbed the ladder. Its just a sad fact of life.

    At least Paul can cry himself to sleep in a pit of money every night.

    1. And Allen still isn’t satisfied. Now he’s become a patent troll and hope to make billions more litigating against tech firms and their alleged patent violations.

      I guess cancer does that to ya.

  4. Ahhh…the truth shall set you free! Their decades of carefully applied and polished gloss now beginning to wear thin. I have read this depiction of events before, but never straight from the primary source!

  5. Does this reported incident surprise anyone? Recalling the scene in the movie “Pirates of Silicon Valley” where the young Jobs is accusing Gates, “You’re stealing from me!”, well, that’s what they did – even apparently from their own.

  6. “In the book, Mr. Allen also positions himself as the spark of many of Microsoft’s most important ideas, playing down Mr. Gates’s role in some cases.”

    Um, I thought Steve Jobs was the spark behind most of Microsoft’s important ideas?

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