Vulcan Inc.

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Vulcan Inc.
Vulcan Inc. Logo.png
Formation 1986; 31 years ago (1986)[1]
Type Private
Purpose Philanthropy, Education, Entertainment, Technology, Investments, Real Estate, Spaceflight
Headquarters Seattle, Washington, United States
Area served
Owner Paul Allen
Key people
Paul Allen, founder, chairman
Bill Hilf, CEO
Jody Allen, co-founder

Vulcan Inc. is a private company founded by philanthropist, investor, and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. It was established in 1986 and oversees Allen's diverse business activities and philanthropic endeavors--from sports teams which include the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trail Blazers to conservation projects such as the Great Elephant Census, the Seattle Cinerama, and Museum of Pop Culture.

Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, the company's mission is to find solutions for some of the world's toughest challenges.[2]

Vulcan Inc. Headquarters

Vulcan Northwest was formed in Bellevue, Washington in 1986 to manage the business affairs, investments, and philanthropic affairs of Paul Allen. Initially the company had a Pacific Northwest focus,[3] but dropped the Northwest in 2001 to reflect its burgeoning global interests, the company’s headquarters have since moved to Seattle’s International District.


Vulcan Real Estate[edit]

Vulcan's Real Estate division offers development and portfolio management services from site selection and urban planning to build-to-suit construction, leasing and asset repositioning. Vulcan has developed 6.6 million square feet of new residential, office, retail and biotechnology research space and has a total development capacity of 10,000,000 square feet (930,000 m2).[4]

Vulcan Real Estate is known for the redevelopment of the South Lake Union neighborhood immediately north of downtown Seattle and along the south shore of Lake Union. Several innovative companies in technology, life sciences, global health and business, are based in Vulcan developed properties.[5] More than $5.7 billion has been invested in the neighborhood since 2002 for development projects and public infrastructure improvements.

Vulcan advocated for the Seattle Streetcar line known as South Lake Union Streetcar, which runs from Seattle's Westlake Center to the south end of Lake Union, the Streetcar is a public and private partnership created through a Local Improvement District (LID) supported by businesses and residents along the line; The LID provided 50% of the funding while the remainder came from Federal and State sources with no city money used for its development costs.[6] The streetcar officially started operation on December 12, 2007, this development has been criticized as a city-supported real estate investment for Vulcan Inc.,[7] and concerns over the loss of low-income housing have been expressed.

In 2012, The Wall Street Journal called Allen's South Lake Union investment "unexpectedly lucrative" and one that led to his firm selling a 1,800,000 square feet (170,000 m2) office complex to for US$1.16 billion, one of the most expensive office deals ever in Seattle.[8] "It's exceeded my expectations," Mr. Allen said of the South Lake Union development.

In September 2014, Vulcan made a commitment to invest $200 million at Yesler Terrace where it would purchase three land parcels from the Seattle Housing Authority as part of an ambitious redevelopment plan for the 30-acre low-income housing site located southeast of downtown Seattle.[9]

Vulcan Capital[edit]

Formed in 2003, Vulcan Capital is the multibillion-dollar investment arm of Vulcan and is headquartered in Seattle with an additional office in Palo Alto.[10] Vulcan Capital invests in both private and public companies with a focus on making investments of $10 million to $100 million or more in companies mirroring the philanthropic approach of Paul Allen and Vulcan Inc. 4INFO, Alibaba Group, Charter Communications, DreamWorks, Magic Leap, Redfin and Tri Alpha Energy, Inc. are just some of the companies Vulcan Capital has invested in.

Vulcan Sports and Entertainment[edit]

Vulcan Sports and Entertainment (VSE) is responsible for all financial and business operations of Allen's sports-related properties including the Portland Trail Blazers, the Seattle Seahawks, the Seattle Sounders and the Moda Center. In the fall of 2012, Peter McLoughlin was named CEO of Vulcan Sports and Entertainment after Tod Leiweke left the post to run the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Green Sports Alliance was conceived and founded by Vulcan Inc. and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Inaugural members and partners of the Alliance include the Seattle Seahawks, Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle Sounders FC. Green Sports Alliance Members have made a commitment to improve their environmental performance; reducing waste, conserving energy and water, and eliminating toxic chemicals, among many other ongoing initiatives and accomplishments.[11]

Vulcan Aerospace[edit]

Launched in 2015, Vulcan Aerospace was created to help achieve Paul Allen’s desire to make commercial space travel more convenient and less expensive.[12] Vulcan Aerospace oversees the development of Stratolaunch Systems project, an air launch system capable of transporting payloads to low Earth orbit using a large carrier aircraft.[13] Initial test flights are projected to take place as early as 2016;[14] in September 2016, Vulcan Aerospace President Chuck Beames left his role and was replaced by an interim executive director: "Jean Floyd, the CEO of Vulcan’s Stratolaunch Systems."[15][needs update]


Allen Brain Atlas

Both the Allen Institute for Brain Science and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence were incubated at Vulcan Inc. Started at Vulcan Inc. in 2001, the Allen Brain Atlas project sought to understand the connections between genes and brain functioning. From the project’s research, Paul Allen created the Allen Institute for Brain Science in 2003 with a $100 million donation.

Project Halo came next, the project ran from 2002 to 2013, with the goal of creating a "digital Aristotle" that can correctly answer queries about scientific information, using artificial intelligence. The project led to a number of spinoff technologies, including the wiki software bundle SMW+, the Semantic Inferencing on Large Knowledge (SILK) project[16] and the Automated User-Centered Reasoning and Acquisition System (AURA).[17] From Project Halo’s results, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence was created.[18]


Media and entertainment[edit]

  • Seattle Cinerama:[19] A downtown Seattle theater with all the big-screen bells and whistles. Remodeled inside and out in 2014 to include digital laser projection and Dolby Atmos surround sound, 3D, high-frame-rate compatibility, and the ability to show 35mm and 70mm films.
  • The Hospital Club: In 2002, Paul Allen reopened the doors of the old St. Paul's Hospital in London's Covent Garden neighborhood, revealing a new 60,000-square-foot creative hub, providing a professional and social hub to those working in the film, television, music, advertising, contemporary art and design, publishing and journalism, interactive media, theatre and fashion industries.[20]
  • Vulcan Productions: Vulcan Productions produces films, digital programs and outreach initiatives designed to explore critical issues and inspire people to take action. Its programs have won numerous awards, including the George Foster Peabody Award, the Emmy Award, the Grammy Award and the Wildscreen Panda Award. Films and series from the documentary group include: Racing Extinction (2015); We the Economy (2014); Years of Living Dangerously (2014); Girl Rising (2013); This Emotional Life (2010); Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial (2007); Rx for Survival: A Global Health Challenge (2005); No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005); Strange Days on Planet Earth (2005); Black Sky: The Race For Space and Black Sky: Winning the X Prize (2004); Lightning in a Bottle (2004); The Blues (2003) and Evolution (2001).[21]


Vulcan, Inc. has also directly led some technology projects, including the following:

Wireless spectrum[edit]

Vulcan Spectrum, a branch of Vulcan, Inc., participated in the United States 2008 wireless spectrum auction, paying $69 million for "A Block" spectrum in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton area, and $43.6 million for "A Block" spectrum in Portland-Salem.[22]

Vulcan FlipStart[edit]

In 2003, Vulcan began developing the Vulcan FlipStart, a subnotebook with a 5.6-inch screen. The company began to manufacture and sell the FlipStart in March 2007, and ceased production in May 2008.[23]


The Great Elephant Census is designed to provide accurate and up-to-date data about the number and distribution of African elephants by using standardized aerial surveys of thousands of square miles. Dozens of researchers flying in small planes will capture comprehensive observational data of elephants and elephant carcasses; in many countries, surveys have not been flown in as many as 10 years, and without this data, it is challenging to assess the current state of elephant populations. Additionally, the existing data isn't well organized, the resulting database will provide valuable information to governments, scientists and NGOs so they can make smart decisions on how to manage elephant populations.[24]


  1. ^ "About - Vulcan". Retrieved 23 September 2016. 
  2. ^ "The Vulcan Story - Vulcan". Retrieved 2017-01-16. 
  3. ^ "Business - Paul Allen To Move Headquarters Of Vulcan Northwest Downtown - Seattle Times Newspaper". Retrieved 23 September 2016. 
  4. ^ "About Us - Vulcan Real Estate". Retrieved 23 September 2016. 
  5. ^ Nick Timiraos. "A Look at Six U.S. Cities Pioneering New Economic Zones". WSJ. 
  6. ^ "Amazon plan adds more streetcar trips". The Seattle Times. 
  7. ^ "Venture Capital: Airplanes ... to antibodies". 
  8. ^ "Amazon to pay Vulcan $1.16B for headquarters campus in South Lake Union - Puget Sound Business Journal". Puget Sound Business Journal. 5 October 2012. 
  9. ^ "Vulcan to buy three blocks in Yesler Terrace". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 
  10. ^ "Paul Allen's Vulcan Capital expanding to Silicon Valley". 1 April 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2016. 
  11. ^ "ABOUT -". 
  12. ^ "Paul Allen Launches 'Vulcan Aerospace' to Boost Private Space Travel". Retrieved 23 September 2016. 
  13. ^ Johnsson, Julie (13 April 2015). "Paul Allen Wants Path to Space to Start on World's Biggest Plane". Retrieved 23 September 2016 – via 
  14. ^ "Vulcan Aerospace". Retrieved 23 September 2016. 
  15. ^ "Internal email: Paul Allen's top space exec Chuck Beames leaving Vulcan Aerospace". 23 September 2016. Retrieved 23 September 2016. 
  16. ^ "The SILK Project: Semantic Inferencing on Large Knowledge". 
  17. ^ "Automated User-Centered Reasoning and Acquisition System". Artificial Intelligence Center. SRI International. Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  18. ^ Brandom, Russell (24 October 2013). "Paul Allen and the Machines: teaching the next generation of artificial intelligence". Retrieved 23 September 2016. 
  19. ^ "If the New Cinerama Can't Save Movie Theaters, Nothing Can". The Stranger. 
  20. ^ "The Hospital Club". 
  21. ^ "Vulcan Productions". 
  22. ^ "Verizon Gets the "C" Block -". 
  23. ^ Is FlipStart closing up shop?, Joshua Topolsky, Engadget, May 4, 2008
  24. ^ "Great Elephant Census". Great Elephant Census. 

External links[edit]