Billionaire investor Paul Allen is stepping down from the board of Microsoft Corp., ending a formal relationship with the software giant he co-founded 25 years ago.
Allen, 47, who left the day-to-day operations of the company in 1983 to pursue independent investments, will leave the board this year, according to a proxy filing Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Allen will remain a "senior strategy advisor" to the company.
Allen has increasingly distanced himself from the company he and Bill Gates founded in 1975, and has been the biggest individual seller of Microsoft shares this year, unloading more than $6 billion worth this year.
"He's been pretty involved in his own investments over the past few years, so I don't know how involved he's been in Microsoft's board anyhow," said Jonathan Geurkink, an analyst with Ragen MacKenzie Inc. in Seattle.
Investors seemed to shrug off the news; Microsoft shares rose 69 cents to close at $61.31 in Nasdaq trading.
Allen wasn't immediately available for comment.
Allen and Gates co-founded Microsoft in 1975. Allen left the company in 1983, and has since started his own venture investment firm, Vulcan Ventures Inc. The closely held firm has invested billions in technology, telecommunications and entertainment companies, including Egghead Inc., Asymetrix Corp., Starwave Corp. and Virtual Vision Inc.
Allen's resignation and share sales come as growth is slowing at the world's largest software maker. Its stock has dropped 47% this year, making it the second-worst performer in the Dow Jones industrial average.
Allen's sales, more than five times the amount he sold last year, come as the man Forbes magazine pegged as the third-richest American invests billions in myriad eclectic investments, from the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team to computer chip maker Transmeta Corp.