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Microsoft co-founder's unflattering description of events

Paul Allen memoir describes ‘mercenary opportunist’ Gates

A new memoir by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has leveled some startling charges at Allen’s former partner Bill Gates.

Vanity Fair published an extract of Paul Allen’s ‘Idea Man’, in which Allen describes the first time that he met the Microsoft Chairman. 

"You could tell three things about Bill Gates pretty quickly. He was really smart. He was really competitive; he wanted to show you how smart he was," wrote Allen.

"And he was really, really persistent."

The memoir explosively recalls the events leading up to Allen’s departure in 1982, with Allen describing overhearing a conversation in Bill Gate’s office between the Microsoft boss and Steve Ballmer.

"It was easy to get the gist of the conversation. They were bemoaning my recent lack of production and discussing how they might dilute my Microsoft equity by issuing options to themselves and other shareholders," wrote Allen.

"I 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."

"It was mercenary opportunism, plain and simple."

Allen recalls the events as the cause of his deciding the leave the software company. Gates apparently wrote a long letter to Allen, apologising for the event but this was insufficient to convince Alen to stay.

Allen further alleges that when it was apparent he was to depart, Gates called Allen’s stake in the company "unfair" and made a "lowball offer" of Allen’s stock, which he refused.

While the relationship with Bill Gates is some of the most exciting material in the extract, the memoir is also a fascinating account of the early days of Microsoft.

Image: Microsoft.

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