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Microsoft Founded on Lies and Malice, Says Paul Allen

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Yikes. Remind me to never team up on a project in a garage.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is lashing out at former colleagues Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer in his new biography. In his new book, Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-founder of Microsoft, Allen alleges that Gates took credit for much of his work in the early days of the company. Also, he talks about an instance where Gates and Ballmer conspired against him when he was afflicted with Hodgkin's disease.

Apparently, Allen overheard his two colleagues discussing Allen's then-lack of productivity -- yeah, Hodgkin's could do that -- and planned on diluting "his equity in the company by issuing options to themselves and other shareholders." According to The Wall Street Journal, Allen confronted the two who apologized profusely and withdrew 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," Allen writes. "It was mercenary opportunism, plain and simple."

After his recovery, Allen approached Gates for more shares in Microsoft after finding success in the product SoftCard. Gates refused.

"In that moment, something died for me," 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."

As the in-fighting increased, Allen felt he had no choice but to leave. "My sinking morale sapped my enthusiasm for my work, which in turn could precipitate Bill's next attack." Despite that vicious cycle, Allen notes that Gates tried to keep him at Microsoft.

Another seminal Microsoft employee Carl Stork voiced his shock that Allen decided to unleash such a scathing attack against Gates. "I am surprised that Paul would have felt that it helps his legacy to express dissatisfaction with the share of Microsoft he received," Stork told the Journal. "While all of us considered Paul a friend and valued his contribution, there is no question that Bill had a far larger impact on the growth and success of Microsoft than did Paul."

That may be, Carl. But could you live with being only the 57th richest man in the world?

I know I couldn't.

(See also: Microsoft Gets Its Teeth Kicked In and Microsoft Prays for Failure)
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.

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