In a fairly lengthy piece, Bill Rigby of Reuters writes that perhaps Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen has gotten a bad rap for his investment abilities while not receiving enough credit for his philanthropic efforts over the years.
Since he quit Microsoft in 1983, the quiet Seattle native has lost billions of dollars on ill-conceived or mistimed technology investments, and he has been mocked as a juvenile playboy for spending lavishly on giant yachts and off-beat projects like a Frank Gehry-designed rock museum. But in recent years, Allen's ventures in decidedly low-tech sectors -- sports teams, commercial real estate and energy pipelines -- have come to look prescient.
Allen's NBA Portland Trail Blazers and NFL Seattle Seahawks, both purchased years ago for what appeared to be non-business reasons, are now worth many times what he paid for them. Even his part-ownership of the Seattle Sounders soccer team, which draws more fans than any other franchise in its league, is looking like a good bet.
At the same time, Allen has all but single-handedly transformed the once-shabby South Lake Union district near downtown Seattle into the Pacific Northwest's hippest tech outpost, anchored by Amazon.com Inc. And a recent foray into the energy business yielded a $2.25 billion return from a $200 million investment in Plains All American Pipeline.
"He is under-appreciated in Seattle," said David Brewster, long-time civic leader, publisher of local news website Crosscut.com and founder of the Seattle Weekly newspaper. "He's remote and reclusive. There's too much Howard Hughes in the way he behaves for Seattle truly to appreciate a lot of the good that he does."
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter