Paul Allen Dies at 65

Microsoft co-founder and former Charter Communications chairman Paul Allen died Monday in Seattle. He was 65 years old and the cause was complications of non-Hogdkin's lymphoma.

This was Allen’s third battle with cancer. He retired from Microsoft in 1982 after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, from which he later recovered. In 2009, Allen said he had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which he later beat after chemotherapy treatment. But on Oct. 1, Allen said the disease had returned.


Allen teamed up with Harvard student Bill Gates to form Microsoft in 1975, laying the software foundation that would usher in the personal computer age.

Gates released the following statement:

I am heartbroken by the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Paul Allen. From our early days together at Lakeside School, through our partnership in the creation of Microsoft, to some of our joint philanthropic projects over the years, Paul was a true partner and dear friend. Personal computing would not have existed without him.

But Paul wasn’t content with starting one company. He channeled his intellect and compassion into a second act focused on improving people’s lives and strengthening communities in Seattle and around the world. He was fond of saying, “If it has the potential to do good, then we should do it.” That’s the kind of person he was.

Paul loved life and those around him, and we all cherished him in return. He deserved much more time, but his contributions to the world of technology and philanthropy will live on for generations to come. I will miss him tremendously.

He burst on the cable scene in 1998, purchasing Marcus Cable and then Charter Communications, deals that laid the groundwork for Allen’s “Wired World” strategy. What followed was a flurry of transactions – among them Bresnan Communications, Falcon Cable and Avalon Cable – that vaulted Charter to the upper echelons among cable operators across the country.

But those deals significantly increased Charter’s debt load – at one point it was among the highest leveraged operators in the industry. Allen stepped down as chairman in 2009, shortly after the company emerged from bankruptcy protection. He stepped further back from Charter in 2011, reducing his holdings in the cable company and focusing on his other tech holdings via his personal investment vehicle Vulcan Inc., and interests including ownership of the NFL Seattle Seahawks and the NBA Portland Trailblazers. 

Allen’s family said on the Vulcan Inc. website that he died on Monday afternoon in Seattle. In a statement, his sister Jody Allen, said her brother was a “remarkable individual on every level.”

“While most knew Paul Allen as a technologist and philanthropist, for us he was a much loved brother and uncle, and an exceptional friend,” Jody Allen said in the statement. “Paul’s family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern. For all the demands on his schedule, there was always time for family and friends. At this time of loss and grief for us – and so many others – we are profoundly grateful for the care and concern he demonstrated every day.” 

“Our industry mourns the passing of Paul Allen," said Michael Powell, president of NCTA-The Internet & Television Association. "Paul brought to the internet and television industry the same passion he brought to Microsoft, professional sports, aerospace, music and the arts, conservation, education, and his many philanthropic pursuits. During a time of profound change in our business some 20 years ago, Paul invested in our business substantial time, energy, and resources, envisioning a ‘wired world’ and helping transform our industry into the principal source of information, communications, and entertainment that it is today. Paul’s collaborative engagement over the years with NCTA and its member companies resonated throughout our industry, enriching our progress in technology, business, and the customer experience.  A visionary innovator and philanthropist, Paul Allen helped shape the world of intelligence and connectivity in which we dwell today, and all that will flow from our broadband universe tomorrow. We express our sincerest condolences to his loved ones, friends, and colleagues.”

"He leaves a legacy of compassion, innovation, and heart that none of us will soon forget, and all of us will honor," said Sen. Patty Murray. "It was a joy to know Paul and to see his incredible drive and incredible heart, and he will be missed by me and so many others."

“We at Charter are saddened to hear of the passing of Paul Allen," the company said in a statement. "Paul was a true visionary. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends.”

Amazon CEO, founder and chairman Jeff Bezos also spoke about Allen.