A year after Paul Allen’s death, sources say Vulcan holding company is cutting jobs

Jody Allen. (Seahawks Photo)

Vulcan Inc., the holding company created by the late Seattle billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, is in the midst of a round of job reductions, sources have told GeekWire.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the cuts publicly. Several of them referred GeekWire to Vulcan’s public relations staff for comment.

“Vulcan continually assesses its size and structure to ensure effectiveness and impact,” the company said in a statement emailed to GeekWire. “We do not comment on personnel decisions. Be assured that Vulcan remains committed to tackling the world’s toughest problems.”

GeekWire was not able to confirm the depth of the job cuts, or even how many people are currently employed at Vulcan. LinkedIn lists 700 Vulcan employees, and Glassdoor puts the size of the workforce at somewhere between 501 and 1,000. For what it’s worth, such estimates don’t always serve as accurate snapshots of a company’s current workforce.

Vulcan logo
Vulcan Inc. is the holding company created by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. (Vulcan Illustration)

Vulcan and other assets that were owned by Allen are getting a second look in the wake of his death nearly a year ago at the age of 65. At the time of his death, the estate’s net worth was estimated at more than $20 billion. Allen’s sister, Jody Allen, serves as the estate’s executor and trustee.

Jody Allen has generally taken a low profile, though she was in the spotlight last week when Paul Allen was inducted as the 12th man in the “Ring of Honor” for the Seattle Seahawks, the football team he owned. By some accounts, Jody Allen has been focusing on making the estate’s many enterprises prove their worth, based on either profit or philanthropic impact. Just last week, Vulcan highlighted its EarthRanger conservation effort in Africa.

Vulcan has a multibillion-dollar investment arm known as Vulcan Capital, which owns stakes in companies ranging from Amazon to Zuora. Among the Allen estate’s most valuable assets is a stretch of real estate in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood where thousands of employees work for tech powerhouses including Amazon, Facebook and Google.

Paul Allen’s legacy also includes the Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle’s Cinerama, the Museum of Pop Culture, the Allen Institute as well as the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, a media production company, an extensive art collection, properties around the world and a fleet of yachts. (The biggest yacht, the Octopus, is for sale.)

Job reductions aren’t necessarily forever, as illustrated by the ups and downs of Stratolaunch, the aerospace company that Paul Allen founded in 2011. Stratolaunch went through a round of job cuts early this year — but that venture now has almost a dozen job openings, including positions for test pilots.

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