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The Indelible Impact of Paul Allen

WE Communications Blog: CEO Melissa Waggener Zorkin

10/16/2018
— Melissa Waggener Zorkin 

Entrepreneur. Activist. Philanthropist. Pioneer. Patron. Advocate. Explorer. Champion. Scientist. Visionary.

There are limitless ways to characterize Paul Allen. To me, he was a gentle soul with a brilliant mind, powered by a passion for making this world a better place. 

Yesterday, Paul lost his battle with cancer.

As co-founder of Microsoft, his impact on technology and our world is immeasurable. But, that is only part of his legacy. Paul was also an activist and a philanthropist – contributing his creativity, his passion and his brilliance to a multitude of causes.

Here in Seattle, where my company is headquartered, his influence is omnipresent – from his passion for sports (he owned the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trailblazers) and his love of music, evident in his creation of the Experience Music Project and his own amazing talent as a musician – to his commitment to re-energize the cities he knew and loved, like the work behind the SLU development where Amazon is now headquartered. Paul was also dedicated to driving forward the field of science through research and investments in artificial intelligence, cell science, aerospace (and more). He was committed, too, to the arts and to saving the planet.

It’s nearly impossible to list all of the things to which Paul gave his energy, his ideas and his resources. His fingerprints are everywhere. He lived his life with purpose – and a fierce determination to make this world better. As he once said, "In my own work, I've tried to anticipate what's coming over the horizon, to hasten its arrival, and to apply it to people's lives in a meaningful way."

Both my partner, Pam Edstrom, and I had the pleasure of working with Paul in the early years of Microsoft. We experienced firsthand his penchant for problem solving with passion and empathy. His influence on our business was also profound, giving us a unique opportunity to help show the world how technology could impact their lives for the better. Something, I remain ardent about to this day.

Paul was an inspiration to many of us who choose to live our lives and run our businesses with purpose at the core. I learned so much working with him at Microsoft and continued to be inspired by him after he left to pursue and achieve new endeavors in business and philanthropy.

His passing is an incredible loss. But, his indelible impact will live on – in me, and in the many others he has influenced and directly affected through all of his great work. He was taken too soon and my heart goes out to his loved ones and family.