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79 of 82 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading; first half better than 2nd half., April 19, 2011
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This review is from: Idea Man: A Memoir by the Cofounder of Microsoft (Hardcover)
This book details Paul Allen's story on the beginning of Microsoft and his relationship with Bill Gates. The 2nd half of the book deals with his sport teams (TrailBlazers and Seahawks), space planes, investments, life as a wealthy mogul, and recent events.

Contrary to the press reports, this book draws a neutral portrait of Bill Gates. He is both highly praised and criticized. The book truly delivers an unvarnished view of Bill Gates and the beginnings of Microsoft. If you are into tech-history, this book should not be missed.

I think the title "Idea Man" is spot-on. Paul is the founding Visionary of Microsoft. He had the world-changing ideas and inspirations. But it was mostly Bill Gates who sorted them out and drove Paul Allen and rest of Microsoft's employees to execute those ideas into a reality. It is important to note that game changing ideas at Microsoft were somewhat lacking after Paul Allen left Microsoft. Instead, Microsoft became more like Bill Gates, an entity that is ruthless, sucessful, and technically brilliant. Yet, Microsoft lacked a vision and played mostly catchup to other visionary companies and ideas (Netscape, Apple, smartPhones, tablets, game consoles etc). I am convinced that Microsoft may have been a different and a more visionary company if Paul Allen had stayed.

I have also read the two books written by Bill Gates. In both books, Bill Gates gives strong endorsement and credit to Paul Allen for the co-founding of Microsoft. The two men have known each other for over 40 years and grew up together. The bond between the two seems very deep.

Pros:
1)This book is written in an extremely fluid style. I am not sure if Paul hired a ghostwriter, but if the book was mostly first-hand written, then I am impressed.
2)Paul Allen provides details on his days with Bill Gates at Lakeside school, Harvard, and Microsoft. When Paul Allen asked Bill Gates how large their software company could be, Bill replied "about 35 employees" and Paul Allen thought that was little ambitious.
3)The story of the founding and the early days of Microsoft was very engaging. It kept me up until 4am reading this book.

Cons:
1)Where is the sage advice? What would have Paul Allen done differently? He takes a passive retroactive account of his past, and does not delve too much into the lessons he has learned from them.
2)Where is the analysis of the past, the current, and the future state of technology? I am especially interested on Paul Allen's take on technology's future 10-20 years down the road.
3)This book is missing huge parts of Paul Allen's life. Paul Allen writes mostly about his relationship with his parents and Bill Gates. I don't think one could categorize this book as a complete autobiography.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. This book is not written as a completely autobiography. Yet, it provides rich details on many things people would find interesting and engaging.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 9, 2011 5:31:04 PM PDT
J. Brew says:
Jaewoo - Nice review, well done. One minor comment, you said: "This book is not written as a completely autobiography." Paul Allen titled this book a memoir, which is not an autobiography. Here is a definition of a memoir:
"Memoirs are structured differently from formal autobiographies which tend to encompass the writer's entire life span, focusing on the development of his or her personality. The chronological scope of a memoir is determined by the work's context and is therefore more focused and flexible than the traditional arc of birth to old age as found in an autobiography." Source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memoir accessed 9 October 2011

Posted on May 18, 2012 9:18:53 AM PDT
This is one of the best book reviews that I have read here on Amazon. Well done, Jaewoo.
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