Richard W. "Ric" Weiland (April 21, 1953 – June 24, 2006) was a computer software pioneer, programmer and philanthropist. He was one of the first five employees of Microsoft Corporation.
Weiland was a high school classmate and friend of Paul Allen, with whom he created the Lakeside Programmers Group at Lakeside School, a preparatory school in Seattle, Washington, United States. Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Kent Evans, and Weiland were involved with the Computer Center Corporation, using their PDP-10. They worked together to create a payroll program in COBOL for Portland company Information Sciences Inc., and wrote scheduling software for a school.
After he graduated from Stanford University, Allen and Gates hired him in 1975, the same year they founded Microsoft in Albuquerque. As one of only five employees, Weiland was a lead programmer and developer for the company's BASIC and COBOL language systems.
After a stint at Harvard Business School, he rejoined Microsoft in 1982 and became the project leader for Microsoft Works. He left Microsoft in 1988 and dedicated most of his time to philanthropy. He was described by Allen as a "brilliant programmer" and a key contributor to the company's success.
Weiland was a donor to organizations such as the Pride Foundation, the Lifelong AIDS Alliance, United Way of King County, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Stanford University, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, AMFAR, The Nature Conservancy, and the National Audubon Society. He was influential as an active member of the Northwest gay community. A member of the Pride Foundation's board of directors from 1997 to 2001, he helped win the fight to get General Electric to include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policy.
Weiland also was a quiet but key second round investor in gay online media company PlanetOut Corp. His investment helped the company survive the dot com crash of 2000. PlanetOut was acquired by Online Partners in 2001 and is now called PlanetOut Inc.
It was once estimated that during his life he had contributed $30 million to over 50 organizations. He was known not to seek publicity for his philanthropy.
On February 24, 2008, Pride Foundation announced that Ric had bequeathed $65 million to support gay rights and HIV/AIDS organizations—the largest ever single bequest for LGBT community. Through his estate, Weiland established a fund at the Pride Foundation that will provide $46 million over the next eight years to 10 national LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations that he personally selected and $19 million directly to Pride Foundation for their scholarships and grants supporting the Northwest's LGBT community.
The King County Medical Examiner's Office said he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head on June 24, 2006. He was reported to have suffered from clinical depression. Survivors include his partner, Mike Schaefer. Also survived by 2 nieces and 2 nephews in Oregon and Washington.
On February 24, 2008, Pride Foundation announced that the estate had left $65 million to gay rights and HIV/AIDS organizations. The $65 million is among bequests totaling about $160 million—the bulk of Weiland's estate—to various charities and Stanford University, his undergraduate alma mater, according to an estimate provided by the Pride Foundation.
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