No, I am not the Microsoft Paul Allen. I am Paul Allen The Lesser.
I’ve been an entrepreneur since 1990 when I co-founded Infobases along with Dan Taggart. Infobases was a successful CD-ROM publisher of religious and educational CD ROMs. We made the Inc. 500 in 1996.
My biggest claim to fame comes from co-founding Ancestry.com in 1997 (again with Dan Taggart) and launching the MyFamily.com web site in 1998. I was the company CEO for the first year, where we actually achieved positive cash flow as an internet subscription company before raising outside capital. Then we hired my brother Curt Allen, who led the company as we raised $90.5 million in venture capital.
We tried to go public in 2000 but missed the window. Meanwhile, I lived in Silicon Valley and worked in our San Francisco office. While VP of Corporate Development, I initiated the acquisitions of Rootsweb and Ah-ha.com. I served in other roles, including GM of the MyFamily.com business unit, and finally, as VP of Marketing as Ancestry.com reached profitability again in the fall of 2001. I left the company in 2002 mainly because the greater vision the founders had to build an intranet for every family in the world (MyFamily.com) had been killed so the company could focus on our original vision to digitize the genealogical records of the world and make them available online (Ancestry.com).
After Ancestry, I started 10x Marketing, an internet marketing agency specializing in search engine marketing and affiliate marketing. I ran it for a year and then hired a CEO who led us to several successive profitable quarters. 10x Marketing was acquired by Innuity in June 2005.
I founded FundingUniverse in 2004 to connect entrepreneurs with angel investor and other funding sources. It raised $6.5 million in venture funding and is now called Lendio. It has a strong focus on helping small businesses raise debt financing, including SBA loans. In 2005 I started an incubator Provo Labs and learned my toughest business lessons by trying to do too many things at once–and failing at most of them.
From 2007-2012 I focused on FamilyLink.com. From 2008-2010 we had the #1 app for families on Facebook, attracting 80 million users. We were growing by 1 million new users per week and had tremendous plans to add features that customers wanted to our app. But our app was a major casualty of Facebook’s Platform changes from 2009-2010. Over a six month period we lost 98% of our traffic and most of our ad revenue–even though Disney was selling our ads for us. We had to lay off 2/3 of our staff. We survived by selling subscriptions to our WorldVitalRecords.com web site. We finally sold our Facebook to Ancestry.com and our genealogy business to MyHeritage (Israel).
In early 2012 Gallup asked me to advise them on how to accelerate the world-wide usage of StrengthsFinder 2.0. After several months of consulting, I accepted an offer of full-time employment in Gallup’s Washington DC office.
I have an B.A. in Russian from Brigham Young University, and started a Masters Program in Library Science back in 1990. I dropped out to run Infobases, which became successful rather quickly. I often think about pursuing a Masters or Ph.D. in structured finance, computer science, economics or entrepreneurship. When I lived in Silicon Valley in 1999-2000 I grew to love Stanford University, and would love to study there someday.
My heroes include Alexander Graham Bell, an amazing innovator with incredible breadth, Bill Gross, the founder of Idealab! for his relentless energy in starting companies, Jim Clark, for successfully founding multiple billion dollar companies, Pierre Omidyar, who will give most of his eBay fortune away for social entrepreneurship, Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Google for providing the world with unprecendented access to knowledge and for trying to not be evil, Jeff Bezos for his incredible innovations at Amazon, including the Amazon Kindle (I’ve had 5 or 6 versions). Warren Buffett, the world’s greatest investor, is another person I admire, along with his partner Charlie Munger who saw the financial meltdown coming in 2005. They believe in making only a few big investment decisions in life, and sticking with them. Most investors seem to want to get rich quick. Buffett’s philosophy is so different. And now, he has promised $31 billion to philanthropy via the Gates Foundation.
I’m an avid reader, and I enjoy travelling, blogging, lecturing, consulting with startups, and providing statistics and data and analysis to investors and fund-managers. My experience in the genealogy industry and more recently my tracking of the growth of Google+ has brought me into contact with a number of large fund managers who are willing to pay for research and insights.
If you are interested in consulting help of any kind, please contact me here: http://paulallen.net/contact-me/
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