Microsoft co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates and his wife Melinda French Gates said on Twitter Monday that they will split after 27 years. The two will continue to work together on philanthropic endeavors that address education, gender equality, and health care.
“After much thought and work on our relationship, we made the decision to end our marriage,” wrote Bill and Melinda Gates in a statement that Bill Gates tweeted.
“Over the past 27 years we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works around the world to help all people live healthy and productive lives. We continue to share belief in this mission and will continue to work together on the.” But we no longer believe that we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our families as we begin to find our way in this new life. “
The decision reflects a personal change at the top of American business.
Bill Gates led Microsoft as CEO from its inception with Paul Allen in 1975-2000, leaving Steve Ballmer to run the company while Bill Gates became Chairman and Chief Software Architect. In 2008, Gates left the company to spend more time with the nonprofit Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Last year, Bill Gates stepped down from Microsoft’s board of directors as coronavirus became a global force. He spent more time on the foundation alongside Melinda Gates. The two are co-chairs and trustees of the foundation, which was established in 2000.
Bill and Melinda Gates both worked at Microsoft. She was the general manager of the software company, where, according to her LinkedIn profile, she worked on products like the Encarta encyclopedia. The two met in 1987 at a dinner for Microsoft employees. “It was a few months before he questioned me,” Melinda Gates said later. Bill Gates had weighed the pros and cons on a blackboard, and in 1994 the couple married in Hawaii.
Financial details of the Gateses parting ways are not yet clear. Bill Fact owns 1.37% of Microsoft’s outstanding shares, which FactSet says are valued at more than $ 26 billion. The couple co-creators, along with Warren Buffett, of the Giving Pledge, a program that requires participants to give away more than half of their fortune.
At some point, the couple decided to transfer $ 20 billion worth of Microsoft shares to the foundation to increase their commitment to philanthropy, wrote Bill Gates in a 2019 blog post. Today, the foundation has net worth more than, according to tax returns than $ 51 billion, making it one of the richest foundations in the world.
“In the case of Melinda, it’s a really equal partner,” said Bill Gates in the 2019 Netflix documentary “Inside Bill’s Brain.” “She’s a lot like me because she’s optimistic and interested in science. She gets along better People deal with them than I. She’s a little less hardcore at knowing immunology than I am. “
In 2015, the two began pursuing areas they were interested in. Bill Gates founded Breakthrough Energy, a climate change slowdown initiative that includes a venture arm, and Melinda Gates founded Pivotal Ventures, a company that makes investments to advance equality.
For Valentine’s Day 2020, Bill Gates posted a photo on Instagram in which he is standing with his arm around Melinda Gates. “I couldn’t ask for a better partner on this trip,” says the caption.
For more than a decade, the Gateses have published a letter about their founding work every year. The latest release, released in January, reflected on the impact of the pandemic beyond helping vaccine development. “For us, the days were a blur of video meetings, disturbing news reports and microwave-chilled meals,” they wrote.
According to Forbes, Bill Gates is the fourth richest person in the world after Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, LVMH’s Bernard Arnault, and Tesla’s Elon Musk.
The announcement comes two years after Bezos said he and his wife MacKenzie were getting a divorce. Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos are some of the richest people in the world, and Amazon and Microsoft compete in the cloud computing business. Amazon said earlier this year that Bezos was stepping down from his position as CEO and that cloud chief Andy Jassy would succeed him.