March 04, 2015
By way of his company Vulcan Inc., Paul worked to save endangered species, slow climate change, improve ocean health, share art, history and film, develop new technology, tackle epidemics, research how the human brain works and build sustainable communities. In all his endeavors, Allen constantly asked “What if…?” and pushed people to challenge conventional thinking, collaborate across disciplines and re-imagine what’s possible.
As the idea man and original technologist behind Microsoft, Paul used his wealth to expand the horizons of human possibility. All told, Paul’s philanthropic contributions exceeded $2 billion. Even before becoming a member of the Giving Pledge, Paul committed to giving away the majority of his fortune. He invested in brain science and robotics research, retail space and outer space, documentaries and feature films, global health and local education.
Paul was deeply invested locally in his hometown of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, and created public spaces including Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum, MoPOP and the Living Computers Museum + Labs—where people learn and interact with Seattle’s historic, cultural and musical heritage. The Seattle Art Fair and Upstream Music Fest + Summit have put the city on the map as one of the premier art and music destinations in the U.S.
He also thought globally, making impact investments that helped developing countries expand their health, infrastructure and nurture a diversified economy.
Many of his ventures were seeded in his youth, and reflect the depth and diversity of his passions. He endeavored to create a new kind of future — a future that maps the intricacies inside our head, sets hidden talent alight and upends conventional thinking.
If we can understand the mysterious organ, the brain, we can pave the way towards understanding diseases like Alzheimer’s. If we can change the economics of space launches, we can change space travel and exploration. If we can get the formula right for a new kind of downtown neighborhood, it becomes a guide for the innovation centers of tomorrow. Paul was motivated by his commitment to sharing his ideas and discoveries with the world to help catalyze a better future.