Living the Sweet Life After Microsoft
Where are they now?
These 10 former Microsoft execs are living out their post-Redmond dreams.
10. James C. Towne
This one-year president was sued in the 1980s because land he bought was contaminated. Where some would see a hassle, Towne saw opportunity and co-founded Greenfield Development, which buys toxic properties and cleans them up for development.
9. Patty Stonesifer
The former head of Microsoft's Interactive Media division left the company in 1996 to spend time with her family and travel, but Mr. Gates wasn't done with her yet. Months later, he hired her to run the $27 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. If the sweet life is judged by good deeds, Stonesifer has 27 billion of them.
8. Scott Oki
The former senior VP of sales and marketing who gave Redmond an international presence is doing well for himself and for the world. Oki owns a soccer team and five world-class golf courses. He also helped launch a dozen charitable organizations that support children, parks, skiing, Japanese causes and even the Seattle police department.
7. Charles Simonyi
The Hungarian-born inventor of Word and Excel is trying to reinvent programming to make it as easy as building a PowerPoint presentation. When not pounding on a keyboard, Simonyi collects art, jets and Jaguars. He unwinds in a $10,000,000, 21,000-square-foot bachelor pad with a heli-port and 60-foot pool with underground windows.
6. Paul Allen
He's perhaps the most free-spending of all ex-Redmondites. Allen rubs shoulders with rock stars and buys sports teams like the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers. He gets around on his 150-foot yacht or one of his many vintage military planes.
5. Chris Peters
Microsoft's 105th employee, Peters headed the Office operation as VP and made a fortune. After 18 years, he left to pursue his passion—big ball bowling. Unable to qualify as a professional, Peters—along with other ex-Redmond-ites Rob Glaser and Mike Slade (who founded ESPN.com and ABC.com among other sites)—bought the Professional Bowlers Association for a cool $5 million.
4. Rob Glaser
Glaser is arguably the most successful ex-Microsoft entrepreneur. A multimedia maven at Microsoft, Glaser left to form Real Networks and soon stared Windows Media Player square in the eyes. In 2000, Glaser's net worth hit $2.4 billion, putting him 38th on the Forbes list. (That was the last time the stock-crunched Glaser made the cut.) A partner with Peters in the PBA, Glaser built a two-lane bowling alley at Real Networks headquarters.
3. Jon Shirley
This former president left in 1990 after seven years at the helm, but continues as a board member. Shirley likes collecting things. He owns works by Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Willem de Koonig. He has a world-famous Ferrari collection, and was the first in line to accept delivery of the brand new Ford GT supercar.
2. Brad Silverberg
Silverberg is widely considered the man who launched Windows 95 and IE. He was lured from rival Borland Software, a move that incurred Borland founder Philippe Kahn's considerable wrath (nothing could be more grating to Kahn than a Microsoft limo showing up at Borland headquarters to whisk away a trusted lieutenant). After leaving Microsoft, Silverberg boarded his bike and pedaled around Canada for a month. Now he's a major force behind Ignition Partners, a VC firm that's a Who's Who of Redmond alumni, including Richard Tong and Cameron Myhrvold.
1. Nathan Myhrvold
In 1986, Bill Gates bought Dynamical Systems, partly for its multi-tasking software, but more for the intellectual power of Nathan Myhrvold and his brainy brother Cameron. Nathan, who served as Gates' chief technology officer, set out to hunt dinosaur bones in Montana after leaving Redmond. When the business bug bit again Myhrvold co-founded Intellectual Ventures. Myhrvold also collects rare books (he spends $5,000 a month on Amazon) and old supercomputers.
Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.