Bill Gates recently talked at the Forbes Philanthropy Summit in New York about former Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen, who was posthumously honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Philanthropy by Forbes.
Allen died unexpectedly on Oct. 15 last year, just three days before the start of the Blazers season and one month after the return of his struggle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Gates touched on Allen’s passion for giving and how it was driven by an innate curiosity.
To fully appreciate the philosophy behind Paul’s giving, you need to know one thing about him: Paul was driven by an incredible curiosity his whole life. Even when we were just kids, he seemed to be interested in just about everything.
Later in life, Paul gave to a huge spectrum of issues that seem unrelated at first glance. He wanted to prevent elephant poaching, improve ocean health, and promote smart cities. He funded new housing for the homeless and arts education in the Puget Sound region. In 2014 alone, he supported research into the polio virus and efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa – all while standing up an amazing new institute for studying artificial intelligence.
Gates even talked about when Allen first expressed interest in owning a professional sports team.
One time we were watching a Seattle SuperSonics basketball game together. Paul turned to me and asked if I thought someone could just buy a team. I thought he was joking! Nobody who went to school with us would have ever pegged Paul as a future sports owner.
But in 1988, he purchased the Portland Trailblazers. And then the Seattle Seahawks a few years later.
Gates touched on several other topics, including the infinite coolness of Allen playing Jimi Hendrix on his guitar and how he kept the Seahawks in Seattle. You can read the full blog here.