About Me

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 or original smaller 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 last year 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.

Since 2007 I have been focused on FamilyLink.com. From 2008-2010 we were 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. For a time, we lost 98% of our traffic and most of our ad revenue. We had to lay off 2/3 of our staff. We survived, but barely.

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, most recently the Amazon Kindle and Kindle Fire (Android Tablet). Warren Buffett, the world’s greatest investor, is another person I admire. He believes 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.

Besides FamilyLink, 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/

15 Comments

  1. I’ve enjoyed visiting your new site, Paul. Especially enjoyed the comments about Disruptive Technologies and (separately) Ben Franklin & Thomas Jefferson. How true!!

  2. Paul,

    Upon your recommendation in an article you wrote, I bought Tim Sander’s book, Love is the Killer App. Thank you, great book, a lot of good applications.

    I enjoyed your write-up about Xango. They have a great story. You questioned why so many network marketing companies are based here in Utah. Well, why are so many software companies in the Bay Area? Pharma in NJ? Autos in Detroit? (Huge pool of industry talent & human resources) On top of that, Utah, Orrin Hatch specifically, has been very friendly to the industry. As big as the ski industry is to Utah’s economy, it’s not a fraction of Utah’s network marketing companies combined.

    Keep an eye on Agel Enterprise in Provo in the Riverwoods. They shattered all first year industry sales records, including Xangos. Funded by Ash Capital/Alan Ashton, they just had their one year anniversary convention here in SLC and announced they are doing business in over 40 countries. Unprecedented. http://www.Agel.com

    Keep up the great work!

    -Gary Hasson
    Lindon, UT

  3. Genie Murphy

    thank You Paul for a stimulating and enlightening morning at the First Friday meeting. I enjoyed your sharing so much! I am convinced the blog venue will aid my pursuit of a School of Music for the very young keyboard player here in Salt Lake. I am a highly trained pianist and teacher from S.F. Bay area recently married (June) and relocated here in SLC. I’ll continue to read and visit. sincerely, Genie Murphy

  4. Hi, Paul! I found your website through a connection in my linkedin.com network, and I am glad that I did! I am enjoying reading your blog and learning new things.

    I am a full time mom and work in the successful consumer driven health care business, where I am helping others SAVE money on their health care, or giving people a lucrative biz op working from home earing residual income! If you or anyone you know are looking for another stream of income, please check us out! Thanks for your time and advice on your site!

  5. [...] Paul Allen (who runs an US internet incuvator called Provo Labs) has posted about a TV show on serial entrepreneur Mark Cuban – Mark Cuban on Becoming a Billionaire. (Mark Cuban is one the dot com era winners with Broadcast.com ) Paul highlighted the following insights from the show: “He reads like crazy and uses email like crazy…” – I think every entrepreneur reads like crazy. I am always on the look out for new ideas, inspiration and different business models. I am a big believer in cross pollenation of ideas from different segments of the business world. Sometimes inspiration is found in strange places! eg. I got an idea for a new auction component from reading the introduction of customers.com! For some strange reason the introductory pitch of the book ampifilied the ideas that were bubbling under the surface. “He is willing to do the blocking and tackling to build a business…” ie. He’s willing to do the hard yards to build the business. Taking the time to get the little details right can make the difference in creating a unique user experience. Small things do make a difference and you can really build something substancial when you add up everything. At the end of the day, you can’t say that you gave it your best shot if you didn’t give it 120%. A start-up isn’t a 9-5 job, you need to live and breathe it,if you want to be a success. “Being an investor made him a better business man, and being a business man made him a better investor…” – Absolutely, you need to understand investing to be a better business. You need to understand about investing, if you want to get into the mindspace of a VC. What do VC’s want in companies? More on that later… [...]

  6. Hi Paul,
    am an international student from Zambia(Africa) at BYU-IDAHO where you spoke at the enterprenuer conference.I indeed was blessed to hear you speak.I felt the flow of intelligence in the Tylar chapel.I will work hard so that i can share that knowledge with my country and help them come out the shackles of poverty.Indeed i would want to commend you for your desire to bless and do good for the world.May you continue to a resource person to many of us who will take up and work with you for such a great cause.
    Thanks for inspiring me.I will contact you for further instructions and wisdom.

  7. Lisa

    I was actually searching for the Microsoft Paul Allen. I have to say that you are much better looking (love the eyes). I have read your blog and it is very interesting. I am finishing my Bachelor’s in Business Management. I love to learn something new everyday. It seems like you have a strong stand on life and know what you desire. Many people seach for that everyday. Your morales are respectable. Good luck in life – Lisa

  8. I had the opportunity to watch quite an amazing demo of Drill.com which also going to offer the same services for free on the net.
    I recommend looking at the Drill.com system if you are in the business of media buying…

  9. Nick Sorensen

    I wish you were teaching internet marketing at BYU this fall! I’m signed up for the class but you aren’t the teacher…Thanks for your thoughts. No doubt your experiences are inspiring thousands of people.

  10. Melinda

    Hello Paul!
    Have you been in for your Orange Dream lately?! I miss working there and seeing you and your family all the time. I hope your family is doing well! I was working with CorporateAlliance for awhile, (I ran into you again at a few summits I think!) and now I am the Marketing Director of Jasons Deli. Quite a change. Still yet, a good experience for me! I still hope to take over all of Steves stores some day! :)
    I actually stumbled upon your site because I was looking for local businesses to market our catering and delivery towards, and I googled “top 100 businesses” and your site came up. It was about the second one down from the top.
    That is good right!! Hope you are doing well!
    Melinda Logan

  11. sara

    hola te he leido, y te felicito por ser miembro de los santos de los ultimos dias, yo tambien creo que nuestro apdre celestial existe yesta entre nosotros
    muchos besitos
    sara

  12. paul, i’m reminded i should be reading your blog more often… i always enjoy it when i drop by :)

    would love to catchup sometime, next time in in utah or you’re in the bay area. please drop me a note anytime.

    regards,

    - dave mcclure

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *