What Caused Bill Gates And Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen To Stop Speaking For A Year?

Most people are quite familiar with Microsoft and Windows. The software giant has had an overwhelmingly dominant grip on the computer market for years. As Statista says, Microsoft Windows is by far the most used operating system in the world, comprising a whopping 70% of the total market (according to data from 2017-2021), compared to Apple's 18%. Microsoft's annual revenue hit $198.27 billion in 2022, making it an incredibly lucrative company, among the most valuable in the world. 

As Britannica explains, the tech giant got its start in 1976 and was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Since then, it has expanded well beyond operating systems, incorporating gaming, e-mail, hardware, and more into its product line. Its founders, Gates and Allen, were lifelong friends before deciding to create a tech company together. However, it actually wasn't always like this. Gates and Allen at one point actually stopped speaking to each other for an entire year. 

A brief history of Bill Gates and Paul Allen

Bill Gates is one of the richest and most famous people in history. As of writing, Gates's net worth is estimated to be $111 billion dollars, making him the 5th richest person on the planet. According to Britannica, Gates was born on October 28, 1955, and had a fervent interest in computers and programming from an early age. He was only 13 years old when he wrote a software program for the first time. Gates ended up at Harvard University, but eventually left to co-found Microsoft with his childhood friend Paul Allen. 

As Biography says, Paul Allen was born on January 21, 1953, and attended the same high school as Bill Gates. Allen wanted Microsoft to be at the frontier of the oncoming personal computer wave. In contrast to Gates, who was seen as a man of action, Allen served as the idea man counterpart to him. Together, both Allen and Gates turned Microsoft into the tech juggernaut it is today. 

Why Bill Gates and Paul Allen stopped speaking to each other for a year

In 2011, Paul Allen published a memoir called "Idea Man," which covers his time at Microsoft. As the Guardian says, the book details the strange lives of both Allen and Gates, such as Gates' and Allen's tendency to jump from topic to topic when engaged in conversation, almost to an incomprehensible degree. But one aspect of Allen and Gates' friendship that many people might find shocking is the fact that Gates had once belittled Allen. 

According to Business Insider, Gates was an incredibly ruthless businessman. He would often insult Microsoft employees, act confrontational, and had incredibly harsh standards for the work environment. But perhaps nowhere was this more evident than with Allen. Gates once told Steve Balmer, who was a business manager at Microsoft, that Allen contributed very little to the company, and that Gates wanted to dilute his stock. Allen left the company shortly after and had written about the incident in his book. Eventually, though, the two were able to patch up their friendship after not talking for an entire year.