It is one of the biggest corporations in the world, with yearly revenues greater than the gross domestic products of 169 countries. Not bad for a company that was co-founded by two young nerds on April 4, 1975 to develop and sell software on computers. They didn’t have much money then.
In fact, one of those guys who arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico airport from Boston in 1975, didn’t have enough money to afford the “upscale” moderately priced motel the computer manufacturer who was interested in buying this software had reserved for this nerd while he proved that his software worked on their computer. He was very nervous about the software — everything was riding on the code — which was punched onto a small role of paper computer tape he carried with him. But, it worked the first time, largely because they had used an emulator of the computer (a software program written by this guy) to build and test the code back in Boston.
This guy, although he didn’t have much money at the time, he did have a big idea. Now others had similar ideas,which was to sell software for computers. That wasn’t the big idea. He and his co-founder shared a firm belief in this big idea, but they were a little different in personality.
What Paul Allen, that young nerd who had that big idea, shared with his cofounder, Bill Gates, was they are both “nerds:” they are of the Rational Temperament. But, they are different types: Paul Allen is an Inventor Rational (ENTP) and Bill Gates is a Mastermind Rational (INTJ).
If you read Paul Allen’s new memoir, Idea Man, you will quickly see each type of personality has strengths and weaknesses. When you combine bright individuals together in an enterprise, each person “makes up” for the weaknesses of the other and a synergy can be formed. That big idea, that writing software for a computer affordable by an individual — in effect, a Personal Computer — and starting a company to do that, in 1975 before anybody else, became worth billions.
Anybody can come up with a good big idea, but if one cannot execute on that idea, it does not become a good idea that is real. A Real Idea. When one takes an Innovative Leader — the Inventor, Paul Allen who had big ideas (and many of them) — and combine him with a Pragmatic Leader — Bill Gates, the Mastermind, the guy who had the strategic plans and able to get them executed — one gets something that is much more than the sum of the parts. What we got, in this case, was Microsoft, an institution, a society of approximately of 90,000 individuals, whose software is used throughout the entire world, including those 169 countries.