Idea Man by Paul Allen

Posted on March 22, 2012 08:05 am

 

Idea 1
Front gloss cover of the book
Idea 1-1
The same book without gloss cover

To succeed in business, in the manner of Messrs Allen and Gates, there must be a tipping point and for them it was when IBM picked up MS-DOS as the operating system for their first generation PC. However, that tipping point would never have been reached if Steve Jobs hadn’t turned down IBM’s overtures. IBM preferred the Apple OS, its look and feel, its ease of use etc. Jobs did not want to sell out to ‘big business’ and that’s California for you, folks and so IBM went to Microsoft. It was Job’s decision to reject IBM that really made Microsoft the company it is today. Our university professor used to tell us that you can’t be too thin or too rich. Having read Paul Allen’s memoir, I’m more pessimistic about the rich bit. After Allen and Gates spent eight frenzied years building Microsoft into the corporate colossus that it is today there were two notable things that happened that forever changed the equation at the company. Allen became ill with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and he decided to end the perpetual conflict that came with working with Gates as the book highlights. Allen quit in 1983 after he rebuffed Gates’s offer to buy his Microsoft stock at a knockdown price, held on to his shares and has spent the rest of his life with his money and by 1990 his net worth was $1bn and was 13 times that in 1996.

Idea - 2
Book first inside page
Idea 4
Soft card chapter was incisive and insightful

Allen wrote an emulator of a machine that today is an iron-age relic, and that emulator ran on a machine that is a stone-age relic. If he hadn’t written that emulator, they wouldn’t have been first to market with Software for the first micro, and the curiously hyphenated Micro-Soft would not have appeared on IBM’s list of people to call. They also had to write a lot of other substantial applications that were better than the market leaders at the time, such as Lotus 123 and WordPerfect. Where are they now?In the book, it is clear that Microsoft’s first big contribution to the PC was a replaceable commodity and an anachronism, a historical footnote, almost immediately on becoming a viable business.
Allen also shows how they struggled to establish Windows whose success of which has obscured its clumsy beginnings. However, they finally achieved their dominance through a combination of Windows 3.1 and Office 3.0 and according to Allen, it was the culmination of over a decade of miserable failure and constant teetering on the edge of irrelevance.
 The company has been forced to keep moving, and in particular, the leap they took to create the completely new Windows NT line was a very bold move according to the book. If they hadn’t done that, they would still be trying to sell us Windows ME, in a world of MacBooks and iMacs.

Idea 6
Paul Allen as youngster who loved sports
liked this iconic image of him and Bill Gates
liked this iconic image of him and Bill Gates

While reading chapter eight which is titled partners, it is clear that Paul has way too many interests and doesn’t give them the just attention they require to be a success and somehow indications are Steve Ballmer is dragging down Microsoft because he has no original ideas of his own and cant see how to keep up with technology as Apple or Samsung now has. Gates brow beated Paul from the beginning on shares via advice from his attorney father so I believe Paul when he says he caught Gates and Ballmer conspiring to steal his shares. What I did not hear in the book is one other girlfriend he failed to speak about because she is the one person in the world that truly loved him for the adorable geek he was and not his money. Allen woman was the one that stood up to him and told him the truth even when he didn’t want to hear it out of love and protection from himself.Allen has told her he loves her many times, but the reason they are not together is complicated. Paul stole her ideas and allowed his friends to make millions and cut her out. Allen took advantage of her love for him and his shame is so great for how he has treated her, he can’t even admit in his book he even knew her which to me waters down the meaning of such a book.I think Allen lawyers felt she will sue, but she has already told him she wouldn’t bother,so why did Allen not include that juicy content in the book?.Only time will tell.The lady I am talking about is Roxann Storm and you can read all about her and what happened in her book that was published long before this one. The name of the book is “Me and Mr Microsoft Our Secret Life”, by Roxann Storm.

Paul Allen is an adventurer as seen in this Africa safari
Paul Allen is an adventurer as seen in this Africa safari

There is a reason his life is so private and she has protected him and his secrets for a very long time. No I do not give interviews or do Tv shows so don’t even ask. After Microsoft, Allen seems to have drifted, and so does his narrative. He started a software company, bought a basketball team and then a football team, commissioned a series of inexplicably lavish yachts and made a series of eccentric and sometimes unwise investments like he did in AOL, Ticketmaster, cable TV and the DreamWorks movie studio, for example. Allen discovered, to his cost, that Hollywood’s mantra is “Give us your money, and we’ll introduce you to some interesting people. But we really don’t want your input”. Allen set up an institute for mapping the human brain, gave $1bn to charitable causes and has continued to play his electric guitar a lot. Allen memoir is that of a talented, reasonable soul who played a key role in one of the great corporate success stories of the 20th century. It has always annoyed me how Gates appears to want to portray himself as a technical genius yet he has never been but Allen was. This leaves me with the encouraging thought that while nice guys usually finish last, they don’t always finish poor. The book made me know who the real Bill Gates is. He was Commercial genius with a brutal, cut-throat attitude as evidenced in the 60 to 40 split that he is tried desperately to atone for with his philanthropy.

Books back gloss cover
Books back gloss cover

In my conclusion, what made the Microsoft cache so ubiquitous is that they are the only ones whom can effect changes to their software. For if you do your own modifications to their code then you’re liable for a lawsuit. How Microsoft get around the “If I buy it, I own it,” mantra is that you never purchase a Microsoft software and you only buy the license to use it.In that way Microsoft retain all rights to all modifications and upgrades and this fine point is missed by most people including IT managers I know.They think that if they buy a Microsoft product then it’s theirs to do with it what they want. Bill Gates insisted upon this way to market Microsoft products so as to exert absolute control over how their products are used. Microsoft has been the real “Wally” of software developers. Linux and Apple software applications are easily considered better software packets by a mile compared to Microsoft by many including myself. Users are turning to the Linux products and finding them superior to the herky-jerky lash ups that have been in the Microsoft stable for years. Apple have had superior operating and application suites of software from the beginning but the dear prices allow Microsoft to pick up the majority of software purchasers Linux is an amalgam of software developers across the globe and although Linus Torvalds tries to manage these developers and does a very good job of it, he has failed to catch everything. Whenever I obtain an updated copy of Ubuntu or Fedora I’m always amazed at how easy it is to use. Applications are coming on stream daily that place Microsoft in the shade. Microsoft’s time have come and gone and will never dominate the market again!

Contador Harrison