As was the rest of Seattle, the Formative family was devastated to hear the news of Paul Allen’s passing. If you’re of a certain age and you grew up around Seattle, you grew up with figures like Paul Allen being bigger than life. We didn’t just feel lucky to have them in our backyard, we felt proud.
We at Formative also felt proud when given the opportunity to work with Paul and his team at Vulcan. Trying to put all that Paul was into perspective was a seemingly endless task. It was impossible to sit in a room and talk about Paul and his passions and not smile, even laugh a little, about how cool this guy was. One minute we’d be talking about brain science and artificial intelligence, the next about ocean expeditions and building the largest plane in human history, the next about the Seahawks and Trailblazers, the next about elephants and sharks, the next about Cinerama and MoPop, and the next about how Quincy Jones thought Paul could “sing and play just like Hendrix.” We half-joked about Paul being the real “most interesting man in the world,” knowing that it wasn’t really a joke.
Paul didn’t like bringing attention to himself, which at times made our work more difficult, but it was also a refreshing sentiment in an era of rampant self-promotion. Paul just liked what he liked, and a lot of what he liked was helping people, especially the people of Seattle. We’ll spend the coming months celebrating Paul. You’ll come to find the building you work in was built by Vulcan, or your favorite museum was endowed by Paul’s foundation, or that Paul once tried to build Seattle our own Central Park. Like us, you’ll come to realize that Paul was so much more than just Microsoft and the Seahawks. Paul did more to define Seattle than perhaps anyone in our city’s history, and he did it with little fanfare or need for a curtain call, although he deserved one.
So, for all us nerds whose passions can’t easily be defined, and who care deeply about this city, we’ll miss you, Paul.
Our hearts go out to Paul’s family, his friends, and the entire Vulcan community.
Thanks, Paul. You’ll forever be our 12th man.