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一个拥有非凡智慧的人离世,既是技术天才,也是投资高手

Glenn Fleishman 2018年10月16日

微软联合创始人保罗·艾伦去世,享年65岁。

2015年10月15日,保罗·艾伦在纽约市纽约公共图书馆举办的2015年卡内基慈善奖章颁奖典礼上获奖。亿万富翁保罗·艾伦是微软联合创始人,也是西雅图海鹰队和波特兰开拓者队的老板,本周一因癌症去世,终年65岁。Steve Mack Getty Images
 

回顾保罗·艾伦:

艾伦告诉《财富》杂志,他是如何看待他和盖茨白手起家创立的这家公司的

亿万富翁的疯狂烧钱新玩法

保罗·艾伦去世了。他是微软联合创始人,也是一位投资人和慈善家,在新技术、医学研究、高等教育和城市活动方面经常提前布局,享年65岁。10月15日下午,他的房地产公司Vulcan在西雅图发布了讣告。。

Vulcan首席执行官比尔·希尔夫在声明中说:“今天,曾有幸与保罗合作的人们都感到难以形容的悲痛。他具有非凡的智慧,对解决世界上一些最困难的问题充满热情,他坚信创造性思维和新做事方式可以产生深远持久的影响。”

—— 比尔·希尔夫(2018年10月15日)

从声明也能看出艾伦丰富多样的兴趣,因为发布方包括Vulcan、艾伦旗下两家球队:橄榄球队西雅图海鹰队和篮球波特兰开拓者队;私营航天飞机公司Stratolaunch Systems;还有两家非盈利组织,一是从事生物科学研究的艾伦研究所,二是艾伦人工智能研究所,主要为人工智能研究人员提供免费数据和工具。

艾伦是西雅图人,一生大部分时间都住在西雅图市内和附近,他一直对职业体育有着浓厚的个人爱好,很有兴趣投资。作为篮球爱好者,1988年艾伦以7000万美元的价格购买了开拓者队,之后23次闯入季后赛,现在价值接近10亿美元。1996年,西雅图海鹰队的大股东打算将球队搬到加利福尼亚南部,艾伦介入并于第二年出资1.94亿美元购买球队,还为新球场投入1.3亿美元。几位消息人士称,该球队目前估值约为25亿美元。艾伦还成为西雅图海湾人足球俱乐部的小股东,这只职业足球大联盟的足球队2009年开始参加比赛。

虽然艾伦的个人简介开头永远是“微软联合创始人”,但他在微软的时间其实不算长。不过,比尔·盖茨在哀悼艾伦去世的声明中还是表示:“如果没有他,个人计算机就不会存在。”

艾伦14岁时,在西雅图预科学校遇到12岁的比尔盖茨。仅仅四年之后,盖茨跟艾伦,还有保罗·吉尔伯特共同创立了一家名为Traf-o-Data的公司,帮政府计算交通流量。1975年,盖茨和艾伦辍学后搬到阿尔伯克基,成立了“Micro-Soft”,后来删掉字母中间的连字符正式变成“微软”。阿尔伯克基是MITS的总部,该公司制造的早期微型计算机Altair 8800引发了个人电脑革命。他们在阿尔伯克基没待多久,1979年回到西雅图地区。

1982年,艾伦接受了霍奇金病的诊断,他在回忆录《我用微软改变世界》中回忆称,无意中听到盖茨和早期微软员工史蒂夫·鲍尔默因他在治疗期间缺乏贡献讨论他的所有权问题。他在书中写到,曾找二人对质,之后盖茨和鲍尔默道歉。1983年艾伦选择离开微软,虽然减少持有股份,但继续在董事会任职多年。

艾伦去世时净资产估计超过200亿美元。他的投资经历了两个主要阶段。从20世纪80年代初到21世纪初,艾伦在技术和行业方面经常很早进入尚未成熟的技术和行业,他退出后很多公司发展为行业巨头。1994年的Wired和2003年的一本书都称他为“意外的超级富翁。”他的战绩包括Starwave(1993),开发过一些最早的主要媒体网站,如ESPN.com,ABCNews.com和Outside Online。艾伦是美国在线的早期投资者,美国在线拒绝他提高持股比例后,1994年他抛售股票赚得1亿美元的巨额利润,但后来这些股份市值曾达到400亿美元。1997年他控制了Metricom,该公司为整座城市提供类似Wi-Fi的无线数据,但在2001年倒闭。他还试图控制有线电视公司Charter Communications和RCN,损失了数十亿美元。

随着千禧年到来,艾伦的命运也发生转变,从职业体育到房地产再到早期投资,他经常收获极高的回报率。他对娱乐公司梦工厂投资翻了一倍,低调收购的能源供应商和无线频谱价值也大幅增长。

艾伦在西雅图的投资堪称最成功案例之一。在西雅图市中心以北有一处建筑低矮的轻工业区,艾伦提出帮助建设巨大的城市公园,遭当地选民否决后,Vulcan收购了该地区大部分土地。经过十余年改建,该地区变为办公大楼和研究实验室。亚马逊在西雅图成立后使用了很多艾伦旗下的建筑,谷歌和Facebook等公司也在他的物业里迅速扩张。

艾伦一生中捐赠了近30亿美元,主要给他资助的非营利组织,华盛顿大学的计算机科学系,还有今年早些时候在西雅图救助无家可归者和低收入人群的项目等。获赠4000万美元后,2017年3月威斯康星大学将计算机科学与工程学院以艾伦命名。

艾伦的妹妹乔迪·艾伦在Vulcan的声明中代家人表示:“虽然大多数人都知道保罗·艾伦是技术专家和慈善家,但对我们来说,他是我们深爱的兄弟和叔叔,也是一位出色的朋友。保罗的家人和朋友都很幸运,亲身感受过他的智慧、温暖、慷慨和深切关怀。“

西雅图市市长詹妮·德尔肯在一份声明中说:“保罗是西雅图真正的儿子,他让自己心爱的城市,也让我们生活的世界变得更美好也更有活力。后世数代人,不管是西雅图人和地球上各个角落的人们,都会受到他的愿景、创新和慷慨帮助。他确实帮助创造了未来。”

20世纪80年代艾伦第一次患上癌症,之后恢复健康,但2009年罹患非霍奇金氏淋巴瘤,这是一种更难治疗的恶性肿瘤。治疗后病情再次缓解,但2018年10月1日,他和公司宣布该病复发。他对治疗结果一直保持乐观态度。(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

Paul Allen has died. The co-founder of Microsoft, and an investor and philanthropist who bet often far in advance on new technology, medical research, higher education, and urban initiatives was 65. His real-estate venture, Vulcan, released news of his death the afternoon of Oct. 15 in Seattle.

Vulcan CEO Bill Hilf said in a statement, “All of us who had the honor of working with Paul feel inexpressible loss today. He possessed a remarkable intellect and a passion to solve some of the world’s most difficult problems, with the conviction that creative thinking and new approaches could make profound and lasting impact.”

——Paul Allen October 15, 2018

The statement showed the diversity of Allen’s interests, as it was made on behalf of Vulcan as well as Allen’s two sports teams, the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers; Stratolaunch Systems, a firm designing an air-based space-launch system; and two non-profits: the Allen Institute, a bioscience research organization, and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, which focuses on providing free data and tools to AI researchers.

A Seattle native who spent most of his life in and near the city, Allen had long had a deep personal and financial interest in professional sports. A fan of basketball, he purchased the Trail Blazers for $70 million in 1988. They have since made the playoffs 23 times, and are now worth nearly $1 billion. The Seattle Seahawks’s majority owner was on the verge of moving the team to southern California in 1996, when Allen stepped in and purchased the team the following year for $194 million plus a commitment of $130 million for a new stadium. Several sources value the team at about $2.5 billion today. Allen also became a minority owner of the Seattle Sounders, a Major League Soccer team that started playing in 2009.

While Allen’s biographical sketches always begin “co-founder of Microsoft,” his involvement in the company was relatively brief. Regardless, in a statement about Allen’s death, Bill Gates said “Personal computing would not have existed without him.”

Allen was 14 when he met Bill Gates, then 12, at a Seattle prep school. Just four years later, he and Allen, along with with Paul Gilbert, co-founded a traffic-counting company for governments called Traf-o-Data. In 1975, both Gates and Allen dropped out of college, moved to Albuquerque and started “Micro-Soft,” later losing the hyphen. That city was the headquarters of MITS, which made the Altair 8800, an early microcomputer that sparked the PC revolution. They didn’t stay long, returning to the Seattle area by 1979.

In 1982, Allen received a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Disease, and, in his book Idea Man, recounted that he overheard Gates and early Microsoft employee Steve Ballmer, discussing diluting his ownership because of his lack of productivity during treatment. He confronted them, he wrote, and they apologized. Allen opted to leave Microsoft in 1983, though he continued to serve on its board for many years as he decreased his ownership in company stock.

At his death, Allen’s net worth was estimated at over $20 billion. His investments went through two major phases. From the early 1980s to the early 2000s, Allen frequently bet early on technologies and industries that hadn’t yet matured, though many later became big winners after his exit. He was termed in 1994 by Wired and in the title of a 2003 book, the “accidental zillionaire.” His hiccups included Starwave (1993), which developed some of the earliest major media sites, like ESPN.com, ABCNews.com, and Outside Online. Allen was an early investor in America Online, though he dumped the shares in 1994 for $100 million at a large profit after AOL rebuffed him purchasing more—missing gains that would have later valued his holdings at $40 billion. He took control of Metricom in 1997, a firm that offered Wi-Fi-like wireless data across entire cities, but it shut down in 2001. He also lost billions in trying to gain control of cable companies Charter Communications and RCN.

But Allen’s fortunes turned as the millennium rolled over, and from professional sports to real estate to early-stage investment, he frequently reaped a high rate of return. HIs investment in the entertainment studio DreamWorks doubled, while he more quietly saw big rises in energy providers and wireless spectrum purchases.

Allen’s investment in Seattle are among his biggest wins. Vulcan bought up a large portion of a low-height light-industrial district north of downtown after a massive city park Allen proposed to help build there was rejected by voters. The area transformed over a decade into office towers and research labs. Amazon, founded in Seattle, expanded heavily into Allen-controlled buildings, and companies like Google and Facebook established large outposts in properties he controlled.

Allen gave away nearly $3 billion during his lifetime, to nonprofits he endowed, the computer-science department at the University of Washington, and to efforts like a project to house homeless and low-income people in Seattle earlier this year. UW renamed its computer science and engineering school for Allen in March 2017 after a $40 million gift.

Allen’s sister, Jody Allen, said in statement provided by Vulcan and on behalf of his family, “While most knew Paul Allen as a technologist and philanthropist, for us he was a much-loved brother and uncle, and an exceptional friend. Paul’s family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern.”

Seattle’s Mayor, Jenny Durkan, said in a statement, “Paul was a true son of Seattle who made his beloved city—and our world—a better, more vibrant place. For generations to come, Seattleites and people across our planet will benefit from his vision, innovation, and generosity. He quite literally helped invent the future.”

After Allen’s recovery from his first encounter with cancer in the 1980s, he was hit with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2009, a more virulent form that’s harder to treat. He again went into remission, but on Oct. 1, 2018, he and his firm posted a new diagnosis of the same disease. He had been optimistic about the outcome.

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