SEATTLE (AP) -- Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Thursday that the majority of his wealth will go to philanthropy after his death. The Seattle billionaire says that has been his plan for years.
A spokesman for the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Aaron Blank, said the announcement was a response to last month's challenge from Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, who asked other billionaires to pledge at least half their wealth to charity. This is the first time Allen has publicly announced his intentions, Blank said.
"There are many challenges, both here in the Northwest and around the world that I know will keep us looking for ways to help," Allen said in a statement. "Today I also want to announce that my philanthropic efforts will continue after my lifetime. I've planned for many years now that the majority of my estate will be left to philanthropy to continue the work of the foundation and to fund nonprofit scientific research, like the groundbreaking work being done at the Allen Institute for Brain Science."
Allen's foundation says it has made more than 3,000 grants over the past 20 years totaling over $400 million. In addition, Allen has directly given $600 million to nonprofits he has founded, including the Experience Music Project.
Forbes.com lists the 56-year-old Allen at No. 17 on its 2009 list of the 400 richest Americans with a net worth of $11.5 billion, largely because of Microsoft Corp., which he founded with Gates.
Allen left Microsoft in 1983 for other ventures. His properties include the Seattle Seahawks NFL team and the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers.
In launching the Giving Pledge program in June, Gates and Buffet estimated their efforts could generate $600 billion dollars in charitable giving. In 2009, American philanthropies received a total of about $300 billion in donations, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
Bill and Melinda Gates made the pledge through their Seattle-based foundation. Buffett plans to give the largest chunk of his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. shares to the Gates Foundation.