Arrow-right Camera

Business

New memoir highlights tension between Allen, Gates

Sun., April 3, 2011

NEW YORK — In a memoir out next month, Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen details tensions in his relationship with Bill Gates, including a scene from 1982, when he overheard Gates talking to current CEO Steve Ballmer about reducing Allen’s stake in the company while he was undergoing cancer treatment.

“Unable to stand it any longer, I burst in on them and shouted, ‘This is unbelievable! It shows your true character, once and for all.’ I was speaking to both of them, but staring straight at Bill,” writes Allen in the book, a part of which was published by Vanity Fair magazine online this week.

The book, “Idea Man,” will be published April 19 by Portfolio/Penguin Group.

In the published excerpt, Allen chronicles the first time he and Gates met, in 1968. Allen was in the 10th grade and Gates, “all arms and legs and nervous energy,” in the eighth.

“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. And he was really, really persistent,” writes Allen, who left Microsoft in 1983.

From there on, Allen paints Gates as an ultra-focused micro-manager who expects nothing short of total dedication from his employees. Allen’s memoir says Gates slowly tried to lower Allen’s stake in the company while increasing his own.

“From the time we’d started together in Massachusetts, I’d assumed that our partnership would be a 50-50 proposition. But Bill had another idea,” writes Allen, adding that he later agreed to a 60-40 split of Microsoft, thinking it might be fair. Not long after, Allen writes that changed to 64-36.

In a statement, Bill Gates said “while my recollection of many of these events may differ from Paul’s, I value his friendship and the important contributions he made to the world of technology and at Microsoft.”

Microsoft, where Ballmer is now CEO, declined to comment.



Click here to comment on this story »