Microsoft millionaires unleashed: 12 ex-Microsofties who spent their money in the most magnificent ways

For those lucky enough to hitch their wagons to Microsoft early on in its meteoric rise to the top of the computing market, the payoff was huge.

Some analysts estimate that thanks to the stock options the company gave to early employees, Microsoft has created 3 billionaires and as many as 12,000 millionaires. And even for those who didn’t quite get to those heights, the rewards were huge. 

Here’s a look at what some of Microsoft’s most successful alumni have done with their post-Redmond lives, from fine art to spaceflight. 

[slideshow]
[slide
permalink=”/#bill-gates-the-worlds-richest-man-is-a-huge-collector-of-rare-books-and-paintings-in-1998-he-set-a-record-for-american-art-when-he-paid-36-million-for-winslow-homers-lost-on-the-grand-banks-1″
title=”Bill Gates, the world’s richest man, is a huge collector of rare books and paintings. In 1998, he set a record for American art when he paid $36 million for Winslow Homer’s ‘Lost on the Grand Banks.'”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/555b75f40418e115008b4568/image.jpg”
source=”P. S. Burton / Wikimedia Commons”
caption=”Winslow Homer’s ‘Lost on the Grand Banks.'”
credit_href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_on_the_Grand_Banks#/media/File:Lost_on_the_Grand_Banks_by_Winslow_Homer_1885.jpg”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#bob-greenberg-left-microsoft-in-1981-well-before-its-ipo-and-would-go-on-to-help-create-the-creepy-but-popular-cabbage-patch-kid-dolls-that-were-all-the-rage-in-the-mid-1980s-5″
title=”Bob Greenberg left Microsoft in 1981, well before its IPO, and would go on to help create the creepy-but-popular Cabbage Patch Kid dolls that were all the rage in the mid-1980’s.”
content=”These days, he’s working in software again, after his brief interlude in making hit toys.”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/51216b7569bedd9c1a000001/image.jpg”
source=”alamosbasement / Flickr”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/alamosbasement/3953955111/”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#gabe-newell-was-a-producer-on-the-first-three-versions-of-microsoft-windows-and-was-already-a-millionaire-when-he-left-the-company-in-1996-now-newell-is-the-head-of-valve-software-and-a-hero-to-gamers-everywhere-who-affectionately-call-him-gaben-6″
title=”Gabe Newell was a producer on the first three versions of Microsoft Windows, and was already a millionaire when he left the company in 1996. Now, Newell is the head of Valve Software, and a hero to gamers everywhere, who affectionately call him ‘Gaben.'”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/54f77ca76da811ce16e85d08/image.jpg”
source=”Deviant Art/Darren Geers”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://darrengeers.deviantart.com/art/Gabe-Newell-Half-Life-3-Wallpaper-284307330″
]
[slide
permalink=”/#former-microsoft-cto-nathan-myhrvold-has-a-reputation-as-a-renaissance-man-he-used-his-microsoft-millions-to-found-a-firm-that-specializes-in-intellectual-property-and-patents-plus-hes-a-renowned-nature-photographer-and-trained-physicist-who-once-worked-with-stephen-hawking-but-hes-probably-best-known-for-his-comprehensive-and-unusual-600-plus-page-cookbook-modernist-cuisine-which-has-sold-at-least-30-million-worth-of-copies-7″
title=”Former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold has a reputation as a renaissance man — he used his Microsoft millions to found a firm that specialises in intellectual property and patents, plus he’s a renowned nature photographer and trained physicist who once worked with Stephen Hawking. But he’s probably best known for his comprehensive and unusual 600-plus page cookbook, ‘Modernist Cuisine,’ which has sold at least $30 million worth of copies.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55c4040e2acae711008bdf54/image.jpg”
source=”Modernist Cuisine”
caption=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#richard-quiet-lion-brodie-was-the-original-author-of-microsoft-word-and-bill-gates-former-assistant-he-left-microsoft-in-1994-to-pursue-a-career-as-a-self-help-book-author-and-a-professional-poker-player-he-even-went-on-oprah-once-8″
title=”Richard ‘Quiet Lion’ Brodie, was the original author of Microsoft Word and Bill Gates’ former assistant. He left Microsoft in 1994 to pursue a career as a self-help book author and a professional poker player. He even went on Oprah once.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55c42f452acae7cc3f8bb920/image.jpg”
source=”Amazon”
caption=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#ex-microsoft-employees-chris-peters-mike-slade-and-future-realnetworks-foudner-rob-glaser-teamed-up-to-buy-the-professional-bowlers-association-for-no-other-reason-than-they-could-when-they-left-in-1999-microsoft-stock-was-hitting-some-all-time-highs-ahead-of-a-21-stock-split-9″
title=”Ex-Microsoft employees Chris Peters, Mike Slade, and future RealNetworks founder Rob Glaser teamed up to buy the Professional Bowlers Association, for no other reason than they could. When they left in 1999, Microsoft stock was hitting some all-time highs ahead of a 2:1 stock split.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55c427062acae7c7018bdea2/image.jpg”
source=”Randy Stewart/Flickr”
caption=”RealNetworks founder and Microsoft Millionaire Rob Glaser”
credit_href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/stewtopia/3729119286/”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#brad-silverberg-used-his-microsoft-millions-to-go-into-venture-capital-as-ignition-partners-alongside-a-bunch-of-other-microsoft-millionaires-funding-hot-enterprise-startups-like-witai-and-xamarin-111111110″
title=”Brad Silverberg used his Microsoft millions to go into venture capital as Ignition Partners alongside a bunch of other Microsoft millionaires, funding hot enterprise startups like Wit.ai and Xamarin.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55bab25a2acae72c008bbd0e/image.jpg”
source=”Microsoft”
caption=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#andrea-lewis-was-a-microsoft-technical-writer-estimated-to-be-worth-2-million-she-used-her-millions-to-open-the-richard-hugo-house-a-literary-center-in-seattle-111111111″
title=”Andrea Lewis was a Microsoft technical writer, estimated to be worth $2 million. She used her millions to open the Richard Hugo House, a literary center in Seattle.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/55c432e02acae711008bdf96/image.jpg”
source=”Wikimedia Commons”
caption=”Seattle’s Richard Hugo House.”
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”/#jim-allchin-was-a-key-part-of-getting-windows-98-xp-and-vista-out-the-door-as-a-microsoft-executive-nowadays-hes-a-renowned-blues-guitarist-and-singer-with-his-2013-third-album-qed-garnering-critical-acclaim-112″
title=”Jim Allchin was a key part of getting Windows 98, XP, and Vista out the door as a Microsoft executive. Nowadays, he’s a renowned blues guitarist and singer, with his 2013 third album Q.E.D. garnering critical acclaim.”
content=”
image=””
source=””
caption=””
credit_href=””
]
[/slideshow]