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Brier Dudley's Blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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November 28, 2007 4:58 PM

Howard Hughes plus Mark Cuban equals Paul Allen?

Posted by Brier Dudley

That's one take in a great profile of the Microsoft co-founder turned Seattle real estate mogul that's running in the latest edition of Sports Illustrated.

It retells the lucky billionaire story familiar to many around here -- local sports, space and rock fan met fellow geek Bill Gates at Lakeside, went to Washington State University, co-founded Microsoft, left early after a cancer-induced change of priorities, then had mixed luck with startups and sports franchises.

But the magazine does a great job exploring the character of the only person to solely own teams in two of America's top three pro sports leagues. It also offers a fun courtside perspective of Allen, the sports nut and junkfood enthusiast.

One morsel, from a Blazer's game ...

He was flanked by his new buddy Kevin and his old college roommate Bert. Even as they conversed, the fan didn't divert his strikingly blue eyes from the action on the court ... When a courtside waitress approached during a timeout, he requested a burger and a Coke. Let the Brahmins in the corporate suites order salmon cakes and bottled water. The fan chomped on his junk food and absentmindedly fiddled with the straw in his soda. He wasn't above swiping some fries off Bert's cardboard tray when Bert wasn't looking.

Another, on Allen buying the Seahawks:

Paul Allen is not Bill Gates. Long ago he resigned himself to this reality: He was destined to be known as Garfunkel to Gates's Simon, particularly in Seattle. As Gates was becoming the world's richest man and launching the world's largest charitable foundation and seeking to conquer famine and genocide and improve world health, Allen was, inevitably, "the other Microsoft founder." That was fine by him. But in 1997 he had the opportunity to do something for Seattle and boost his image, if not his profile, in the process.

Allen's a great subject. For a while, he was also competing with Sports Illustrated, after he bought The Sporting News in 2000. I wonder if SI waited to do the Allen story until he sold his magazine last year.

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