Newsmakers 2011: Paul Allen is the ‘Idea Man’

Paul Allen speaking about his book at Seattle's Town Hall earlier this year.

Paul Allen made headlines in 2011 not as much for what he did, but for what he wrote. The Microsoft co-founder’s memoir, “Idea Man,” put Allen in the public eye in large part for his unvarnished account of the Redmond company’s history and of his longtime friend and co-founder, Bill Gates.

Allen is one of our GeekWire Newsmakers of 2011, which we’ll be introducing every weekday throughout the month in preparation for the GeekWire Gala on Dec. 8, where we’re inviting everyone from the tech community to join us to celebrate the past year.

Stories told by Allen in the book included the tale of the behind-the-scenes financial maneuvering by Gates that initially left Allen with a lower stake in the company, and the shenanigans that ultimately contributed to Allen’s decision to leave Microsoft after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease.

But for all the controversy stirred by that early excerpt, the actual book showed those anecdotes to be part of a broader effort by Allen to tell an honest story, even about his own failings.

“You are faced with a decision when you do something like this,” he said when I interviewed him on stage in March at Seattle’s Town Hall. “Are you going to make it unvarnished, warts and all? … And that was the decision that I made, but it was an easy one, based on who I am and how I’ve been brought up. That’s just what you do. I wanted something of substance, something that was accurate, something that was honest, and I believe we achieved something like that.”

Newsmakers at the GeekWire Gala

We’ll be recognizing more than 20 Newsmakers of 2011 during the GeekWire Gala, Dec. 8 at the Great Hall at Seattle’s Union Station. We’ll introduce a new Newsmaker every weekday leading up to the big event.

The night is also a celebration of “Geeks who Give Back,” recognized in a special GeekWire 2012 Calendar that will be given to attendees, with a share of sponsorship proceeds going to the Child’s Play charity.

Tickets are available here for the event.

Thanks to our sponsors Zillow, Bing, Filter, Facebook and Barokas PR for helping to make this special evening possible.

Contact Rebecca Lovell, rebecca@geekwire.com, for sponsorship opportunities.