"Idea Man": Paul Allen Criticizes Bill Gates in New Memoir

It's 1975 and two college dropouts are racing to create software for a new line of "hobbyist" computers. The result? A company called "Micro-Soft"--now the fifth-most-valuable corporation on earth. In an adaptation from his memoir, the author tells the story of his partnership with high-school classmate Bill Gates, until its dramatic ending in 1983.Fast forward, […]

It's 1975 and two college dropouts are racing to create software for a new line of "hobbyist" computers. The result? A company called "Micro-Soft"--now the fifth-most-valuable corporation on earth. In an adaptation from his memoir, the author tells the story of his partnership with high-school classmate Bill Gates, until its dramatic ending in 1983.

Paul Allen in his office at the headquarters of his venture-capital firm, Vulcan, in Seattle, Washington.

Fast forward, Paul Allen's relationship with Bill Gates over the years was never considered to be a hostile one with any bitterness between the two founders of Microsoft. However, Paul Allen's upcoming book, Idea Man, paints a different picture than many would have expected.

In his new book, Microsoft-co founder Paul Allen describes how he met Bill Gates as an eighth-grader and how the two grew up to launch Microsoft. But the book's most explosive parts come later, when Allen, diagnosed with cancer, writes that Gates tried to come up with a plan to dilute Allen's equity in Microsoft.

The book goes into details about the bitter disputes between the two men. Allen describes Gates as driven, and Allen is not shy about expressing his bitterness about not getting more credit for building Microsoft into the global giant it is today.

And after Allen discovered he had cancer and was undergoing treatment, Allen writes that Gates tried to buy out Allen's stake in Microsoft with a low-ball offer.

According to an excerpt of the book published in Vanity Fair:

In December 1982, 3 months after Allen was diagnosed and receiving treatment for cancer, I heard Bill and Steve speaking heatedly in Bill's office and paused outside to listen in. It was easy to get the gist of the conversation. They were bemoaning my recent lack of production and discussing how they might dilute my "Microsoft equity by issuing options to themselves and other shareholders". It was clear that they'd been thinking about this for some time.

After overhearing this conversation, Allen confronted Gates and Ballmer accusing them of colluding behind his back. I burst in on them and shouted, "This's unbelievable! It shows your true character, once and for all." I was speaking to both of them, but staring straight at Bill. Caught red-handed, they were struck dumb. Before they could respond, I turned on my heel and left.

A few days after the incident, Gates apologized to Allen with a six-page handwritten letter and provided a candid look at their partnership throughout the years: "During the last 14 years we've had numerous disagreements. However, I doubt any two partners have ever agreed on as much both in terms of specific decisions and their general idea of how to view things."

Here is Allen writing about a meeting in early January 1983, when Allen left Microsoft after realizing his early stage Hodgkin's lymphoma would make it difficult for him to remain at Microsoft full time:

In January, I met with Bill one final time as a Microsoft executive. As he sat down with me on the couch in his office, I knew that he'd try to make me feel guilty and obliged to stay. But once he saw he couldn't change my mind, Bill tried to cut his losses. When Microsoft incorporated, in 1981, our old partnership agreement was nullified, and with it his power to force me to accept a buyout based on "irreconcilable differences." Now he tried a different tack, one he'd hinted at in his letter. "It's not fair that you keep your stake in the company," he said. He made a low ball offer for my stock: five dollars a share.

In an e-mailed statement to Reuters, Gates further re-emphasized his continuing friendship with Paul: "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."

The full excerpt of the book is available Vanity Fair and the book will be released on April 19.