Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has hired Bill Hilf as the new CEO of Allen’s company, Vulcan.
Vulcan is an odd mix of a company, part commercial (investing in things like real estate), part philanthropic (supporting, for instance, wildlife preservation) and part research (with institutes that study the brain, artificial intelligence). Allen also owns the Seattle Seahawks and has a stake in the Sounders.
All this to say that Allen’s business interests are widespread and eclectic.
Hilf is well known in Seattle for his long run at Microsoft. In the early 2000’s, He made a name for himself helping the company figure out open source software, which is where software code is available for anyone to see and change. Microsoft had made itself the enemy of the open source movement, and a whole crop of young programmers grew up despising the company. Prior to that time, Microsoft was beloved by programmers, who flocked to Windows to build apps.
Hilf worked his way up to helping Microsoft build its cloud service, Azure, and, right around the time that Steve Ballmer reorganized the company and put Satya Nadella in charge of all things cloud, Hilf jumped ship to HP.
At HP, Hilf replaced Marten Mickos to lead HP’s cloud efforts. (Mickos was only at HP briefly, landing there after HP acquired his startup.)
But HP never did figure out the cloud. Hilf left during one of HP’s many reorganizations, and a month after that HP shut down its public cloud altogether.
Hilf’s LinkedIn has been a bit bare since then simply saying that his current position is “>>next” and noting in his summary that his mode of operation is to: “win with integrity. make it better. inspire and be the change.”
Vulcan seems a good fit for him. Not only do his years at Microsoft matter with Allen, but he was also involved ina lot of Microsoft’s charitable efforts. He even also launched his own charity, called High Five Hope, which runs sports programs for children in the Philippines.