Bill Gates and his wife Melinda are on the cover of Time magazine this week, along with Bono, as persons of the year for their work in helping the world’s poorest people. Gates founded Microsoft with another man who also went on to become a billionaire, and is also a great philanthropist. That guy doesn’t appear very often in Time.
Unlike Gates, whose recognition rating is the equal of a Tiger Woods or a Tom Cruise, this other guy could walk down the street untroubled by autograph hunters. He’s Paul Allen, and he’s worth a cool $US 21 billion ($28.6 billion).
Much of Paul Allen’s philanthropy has been dedicated to health and human services and toward the advancement of science and technology. Through the Foundation, Allen awards nearly $30 million in grants annually.
In 2004, Paul Allen confirmed that he was the sole investor behind Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites’ SpaceShipOne suborbital commercial spacecraft. SpaceShipOne was the first privately-funded effort to successfully put a civilian in suborbital space and winner of the Ansari X Prize competition.