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Paul Allen Dies at 65

Jeff Baumgartner
10/15/2018

Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder with many linkages to the cable industry, died Monday at 65.

According to a statement from his family and company, Vulcan, Allen died from compilations of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in his home town of Seattle.

Allen died just weeks after he announced that the non-Hodgkin's lymphoma he had battled in 2009 had returned.

"My brother was a remarkable individual on every level. While most knew Paul Allen as a technologist and philanthropist, for us he was a much loved brother and uncle, and an exceptional friend," Allen's sister, Jody, said in a statement.

Allen, who also owned the NFL's Seattle Seahawks and the NBA's Portland Trailblazers, founded Vulcan as an investment and project management firm with Jody Allen in 1986.

Through a wave of cable system acquisitions, Allen eventually formed what was to become Charter Communications Inc. , a component of the executive's "Wired World" vision. But the debt-loaded operator was forced to file for pre-arranged Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March of 2009 and emerged from it later that year. (See Charter Turns to Chapter 11 and Charter Leaves Chapter 11.)

Through his backing of a company called Digeo, which merged with Steve Perlman's Moxi Digital in 2002, Allen was also an early advocate of a move away from simple, grid-based, interactive on-screen TV guides to more dynamic, intuitive and graphics-rich video user interfaces for set-top boxes.

Although Digeo's products never took cable operators or the retail market by storm, it was early to the game with a gateway-client architecture that now dominates pay-TV. Digeo was also a strong proponent of blending traditional TV content with OTT video at the set-top box -- something that was disruptive and fresh at the time and today is very much commonplace. (See Digeo Goes Over the Top and Amazon Prime Video to Stream to Comcast's X1 Boxes.)

Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) acquired the assets of Digeo in 2009 for a modest $20 million in a deal that marked Arris's entry into the set-top box market. That later led to Arris's acquisitions of Motorola Home and UK-based Pace, turning it into the world's top supplier of set-top boxes. Some of the technology and video software tech that was once linked to Digeo is now traced to Canada's Espial Group Inc. , which acquired Arris's Whole Home Solutions platform in 2016. (See Arris Digs Digeo and Arris Ends Dream of Set-Top Software Riches.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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