Oh Vern, where art thou?

I’ve been trying to get in touch with Vern Raburn. You remember Vern, who was an early employee at Microsoft, Lotus, and Symantec. Vern was very involved in pen computing, ran Paul Allen’s investments, created the first Very Light Jet — the Eclipse 500 — and most recently sold Titan Aerospace to Google. That’s a busy career. Well I’ve been trying to get in touch with so far no success.

I contacted a couple old mutual friends, but they’d lost touch with Vern, too. I saw he was on LinkedIn so I tried to connect. No luck. Then I upgraded my LinkedIn account so I could send Vern e-mail, to which he didn’t reply.

Oh Vern, where art thou?

Accidental Empires, Chapter 6 — Chairman Bill Leads the Happy Workers in Song

Young_Bill_Gates_4ACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER SIX

CHAIRMAN BILL LEADS THE
HAPPY WORKERS IN SONG

William H. Gates III stood in the checkout line at an all-night convenience store near his home in the Laurelhurst section of Seattle. It was about midnight, and he was holding a carton of butter pecan ice cream. The line inched forward, and eventually it was his turn to pay. He put some money on the counter, along with the ice cream, and then began to search his pockets.

“I’ve got a 50-cents-off coupon here somewhere,” he said, giving up on his pants pockets and moving up to search the pockets of his plaid shin.

The clerk waited, the ice […]

I told you so

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is out with his autobiography and Vanity Fair has an excerpt available online. As the Nth richest man in the world, Allen isn’t doing this for the money.  Maybe it’s for posterity. Maybe to settle old grudges, and he certainly does that in Vanity Fair.

The part of that excerpt everyone will be talking about this week is Allen’s story of overhearing Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer plotting to recover Allen’s Microsoft shares or dilute him into insignificance, this at a time with Allen was dying of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  It’s a great story, that’s for sure.  But if you are a longtime follower of this column or its predecessor you’ve […]

By |March 30th, 2011|2011|56 Comments

Trolling for Dollars

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen filed suit this week against a litany of Internet companies claiming they had violated patents awarded years ago to Allen’s now-defunct Interval Research. Many writers, including one passing himself off as me, claimed this made Allen a so-called “patent troll. ”

I don’t think that is the case.

Patent trolls are individuals or companies that habitually sue others over obscure patents. While the Interval patents generally are obscure, that doesn’t make them invalid. And the fact that Allen and then-partner Dave Liddle paid $100 million for the basic research behind those patents, well that hardly sounds like troll behavior.

If Paul Allen actually were a patent troll. he would have sued in […]

By |August 31st, 2010|2010|28 Comments