From the early looks at Paul Allen's new book Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-founder of Microsoft, you might never guess that Allen became one of the richest people in the world thanks to his time as a Microsoftie. The book is packed full of bitter jabs at Bill Gates and revisionist takes on events that other longtime employees say Allen wasn't even around for. Apparently even with $13 billion in assets, there are still plenty of things to bitch about.
The book gives a revisionist take on some details of Microsoft's history and the relationship between Mr. Gates and his former partner, the two of whom have long been viewed as cordial if not close friends. The book has created a rift between Messrs. Gates and Allen, say people who know both men. In the book's acknowledgments section, Mr. Allen thanks Mr. Gates along with 17 other people for "general and logistical assistance."
Two excerpts in particular have riled the Gates faithful. In one, Allen talks about eavesdropping outside a meeting between Gates and now-CEO Steve Ballmer in which the two were supposedly talking about how Allen--who at the time was sick and largely absent as he battled cancer--was being unproductive and that they should dilute his stock equity as punishment.
Allen writes that he burst in and got the two to back down from the plan.
"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."
Later, Allen writes that he'd come to Gates and demanded an increase in shares after developing a successful product. Gates, Allen writes, was unmoved.
"In that moment, something died for me," Mr. Allen writes. "I'd thought that our partnership was based on fairness, but now I saw that Bill's self-interest overrode all other considerations. My partner was out to grab as much of the pie as possible and hold on to it, and that was something I could not accept."
There was even a mention of a trip to Silicon Valley that Allen says he took in order to woo a key software engineer to the company. Other Microsoft employees, however, say it was Gates who made the trip. Meetings are also written about in the book that others say Allen was never a part of.
Gates, for his part, delivered a cordial--albeit opposing--statement in response to the book.
"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."
Besides the jabs at Gates, the book appears to focus largely on Allen's philanthropy projects--which in itself is sort of a subtle dig at the king of philanthropy, Gates.
But when you're mainly known as "the other Microsoft guy with the bad teeth who owns the super yacht and the sports teams," one can understand why Allen would want to candy-coat his image.