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.
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.'
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.'
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.
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.
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.
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.
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