Earn a Master's in Pharmaceutical Bioengineering part-time, in the evenings at UW. Learn more.
Earn a Master's in Biomedical Regulatory Affairs part-time, in the evenings at UW. Learn more.
Equipnet Auction: Used Lab Equipment including HPLC systems, mass spectrometers & more...
Washington BioHistory...The Microsoft Effect
Corporation, headquartered in Redmond, WA, a suburb of Seattle, is the worldwide
leader in software for personal and business computing. It can arguably be said that
Microsoft, co-founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, has impacted the computer
industry, and businesses and individuals throughout the world, like no other company in
history, and the story is far from over.
Needless to say, the direct and indirect economic benefits to the Seattle area and the state of
Washington that come from having Microsoft Corporation headquartered in the state are considerable:
- Microsoft employs more than 122,935 people worldwide, more than 58,990 in the U.S. and more than
41,489 in the Seattle area alone.
- According to a company commissioned study by economist Richard Conway Jr., for every person the
company employs, another 3.4 jobs are created.
- Microsoft's net revenue at the end of June 30, 2014 totaled $86.83B billion with net income of
- The company occupies more than 9.5 million square feet of property in the greater
Seattle metropolitan area.
- The average age of the Microsoft employee in the U.S. is 38.7 years.
Microsoft co-founders Bill Gates
and Paul Allen are among the wealthiest individuals
in the world depending upon the value of their stock holdings at any given time. According to
"Forbes" magazine (2014), Gates alone is worth an estimated $81.4 billion dollars,
Paul Allen $22 billion dollars, and Steve Ballmer, former company president, $13 billion
dollars. In addition, it is estimated that Microsoft, through stock options granted employees, has
produced more than 5,000 millionaires, most of whom live in the Seattle area.
At a National Press Club luncheon Gates was asked: "If you could not
invest in Microsoft, what company would you invest in?"
Gates answered: "(An) area that I'm very excited about is biotechnology. Other
than these information tools, the greatest opportunity right now is revolutionary advances
in medicine, that through understanding DNA and other advances and understanding
biological systems, will be very rapid in the next several decades. It's an area where
it's very hard to pick out who the winners and losers will be-a lot of companies with kind
of confusing names. But I think if you can sort through that, you'll find there's some
wonderful investments in that sector."
The result, Gates, Allen and other current and former employees of Microsoft are actively investing
in biotechnology companies and non-profit research organizations in the Seattle area and elsewhere.
An important example was the recruitment of Leroy Hood from Caltech to the University of Washington (UW).
In October 1991, Dr. Hood, best known for his work developing automatic gene sequencing
machines, was appointed Chair of the new Department of Molecular Biotechnology.
Notably, the recruitment of Hood would not have been possible were it not for a $12 million gift to
the UW from Bill Gates used to create the new department within the UW's medical school.
In addition, Dr. Hood recruited a number of leading scientific researchers to the UW,
and has been involved the founding of several Seattle area biotechnology companies, along
with the establishment of the Institute for Systems Biology, a new non-profit research
institution located in Seattle.
Other past and present Allen and Gates related biotechnology investment in the Seattle area
biotechnology and medical device industry include:
Allen Institute for Brain Science --
The Allen Institute was established in 2003 with $100 million and named for
its founder Paul G. Allen. The inaugural project of the Institute is the Allen Brain Atlas (ABA) that
provides high quality gene expression data at a cellular resolution through the publicly accessible ABA
Application. The Allen Brain Atlas will be the
cornerstone of 21st century brain science with researchers around the world leveraging information from
the Brain Atlas to gain insights into some of the most profound and challenging questions facing science
in this century.
and Melinda Gates Children's Vaccine Program -- The Bill and Melinda Gates Children's
Vaccine Program works to ensure that all children receive the full benefits of new,
lifesaving vaccines without undue delay. The Program focuses on vaccines that protect
children against respiratory, diarrheal, and liver disease. The Program is operated
with the guidance of a Strategic Advisory Council, composed of international experts in
vaccinology and vaccine introduction. It is managed by a Secretariat
based at PATH.
Corixa Corporation, founded in 1994, a NASDAQ listed research-based biotechnology company
committed to saving lives and preventing diseases by understanding and directing the immune system,
was acquired by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in April 2005.
Castle Gate, LLC, a Bill Gates investment partnership provided Corixa with up to $50 million
of equity capital under a credit line, and share and warrant ownership equaling 14.6 percent of
the company. The GSK acquisition was structured as a cash for stock transaction with Corixa shareholders
receiving $4.40 per common share representing a total value of approximately $300 million.
- Darwin Molecular Corporation, established in 1992, and acquired by Chiroscience R&D/Celltech in
1996, (now part of UCB) was focused on the discovery and development of small molecule drugs and
related diagnostics with a therapeutic focus on immune and inflammatory disease. In addition to
Allen and Gates, other prominent individuals involved in company's founding included Ronald Cape,
founder of Cetus Corporation, David Galas, former head of the
Human Genome Project, and the late George Rathmann, former Chairman of ICOS Corporation and Chairman Emeritus
of Amgen, Inc.
ICOS Corporation, founded in 1990, and acquired by Eli Lilly and Co. in 2006 for $2.1 billion,
was a NASDAQ biotechnology company dedicated to bringing innovative
therapeutics to patients. At its founding, the largest shareholders were Bill Gates, then director,
Chairman and CEO of Microsoft and George Rathmann, then Chairman of ICOS Corporation.
Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH)
-- PATH is a non-profit institution dedicated to improving the health of women and
children throughout the world. PATH, with 19 offices in 14 countries, has been designated by the World Health Organization
(WHO) as a Collaborating Center in three technical areas: Research in Human Reproduction; Acquired Immune Deficiency
Syndrome (AIDS); and Hepatitis B Vaccination. As a Collaborating Center, PATH provides
technical assistance to WHO and to ministries of health. In June 1999, the William H. Gates
Foundation announced a $50 million gift to PATH for the establishment of the Malaria
Vaccine Initiative (see Bill and Melinda
Gates Children's Vaccine Program).
Rosetta Inpharmatics, Inc.,
established in 1996, and acquired by Merck & Co. in 2004 for $540 million, is a bioinformatics
company working to transform the drug discovery
process through its integrated system of informatics tools, biological platforms, and data
sets derived from microarray technologies. Co-founders of Rosetta include Lee Hood, Leland
Hartwell, President and Director, Fred Hutchinson Cancer
Research Center, and Steven Friend, former Director of Molecular Pharmacology, at the
Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Notably, Bill Gates, Paul Allen and other current and former Microsoft employees have had and will
continue to have an enormous impact with their charitable donations to non-profit organizations,
educational institutions and others in need locally, as well as globally. The following are examples.
and Melinda Gates Foundation -- Bill and Melinda Gates hope to make an enduring
contribution toward increasing access to innovations in education, technology, and global
health. The world's largest philanthropic organization, based in Seatte, WA has about
$29 billion in assets. In 2006, Warren Buffet the world's second-richest person
announced that he will merge his fortunes with those of the Gates Foundation to support finding
solutions for global health and education. It is estimated that Buffet will give away 85 percent
of his estimated $44 billion fortune to the Gates Foundation.
- Paul Allen/Vulcan, Inc. -- Paul
Allen has created a number of organizations that fund charitable groups and projects
serving the Pacific Northwest, including the Arts, Education, Forest Protection, Medical
Research and Music. All are administered through Vulcan. Inc., Allen's
management company in Bellevue, WA.
Steve Burrill of Burrill & Company in San
Francisco, a private merchant bank focused on life science companies, commented at an
Oregon Bioscience conference in May 1999 that one of the big advantages for future
biotechnology financing in the Pacific Northwest will be when all of the Microsoft
millionaires get old and discover the life saving benefits of biotechnology. If the
preceding is indicative of what we may expect, the Seattle area and Washington state, as a
whole, is very fortunate to have Microsoft located in the region.
In his June 19, 1996, column, "Like software,
biotechnology will change the world," Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates commented on the potential of
biotechnology. "I expect to see breathtaking advances in medicine over the next two
decades, and biotechnology researchers and companies will be at the center of that
progress," said Mr. Gates. "The biggest breakthroughs in medicine will result
from the mapping and understanding of the human genome." Mr. Gates noted that he
believed that the emerging medical revolution is no less important than the changes in
Back to Washington BioHistory
We welcome your comments and feedback.
Please send correspondence to Suggestions@InfoResource.org