Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Paul Allen is accredited with a shocking investment error in the early 90s that ended up costing him a staggering $40 billion, as mentioned in his memoir Idea Man. Revealed through a review of the autobiography by The New York Times, Allen had amassed a stake in internet services company AOL which, upon Bill Gates recommendation, he sold. Gates reasoning was that AOL was no match for the mighty Microsoft.
While Microsoft is by all means the far, far larger company, a 40 billion dollar stock blunder is a huge one to make even for a billionaire like Allen. This isn’t the only major loss that Allen has suffered, as he confessed to losing $8b through investing in cable companies in the 2000s, and he also settled for a less than 50-50 split with Gates because Gates had apparently “done most of the work.”
This $40b mistake is a lot, but consder the rest of his amassed fortune: a personal wealth of US$13.5 billion, two professional sporting teams (the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers), 128 million Microsoft shares worth several billion dollars and his 414 foot (127m) yacht named “Octopus” which sports two helicopters.
Allen officially left his board position at Microsoft in November 2000, and now resides as chairman of his investment and project management company Vulcan Inc.