Bill and Melinda Gates divorced: Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, and his wife Melinda announced on Tuesday that they are getting divorced. They said they would continue to work together at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private charitable foundation.
In identical tweets, they said they had made the decision to end their marriage of 27 years. “We have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives,” they said in a statement. “We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) May 3, 2021
Bill Gates was formerly the world’s richest person and his fortune is estimated at well over USD100 billion. How the couple end up settling their estate and any impact on the foundation will be closely watched, especially after another high-profile Seattle-area billionaire couple recently ended their marriage.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos finalized their divorce in 2019. MacKenzie Scott has since remarried and now focuses on her own philanthropy after receiving a 4% stake in Amazon, worth more than USD 36 billion.
How did they get together?
Melinda, now 56, joined Microsoft as a product manager in 1987, and the two sat together at a business dinner that year in New York.
They began dating, but as Bill told a Netflix documentary: “We cared a lot for each other and there were only two possibilities: either, we were going to break up or we were going to get married.”
Melinda said she found Bill – methodical it seems even in matters of the heart – writing a list on a whiteboard with the “pros and the cons of getting married”.
They got married in 1994 on the Hawaiian island of Lanai, reportedly hiring all the local helicopters to stop unwanted guests flying over.
Bill stepped down from Microsoft’s board last year to focus on his philanthropic activities.
What is the Gates Foundation?
- The couple established the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 in Seattle
- The foundation focuses primarily on public health, education and climate change
- Its grants included some $1.75bn to vaccine initiatives and research during the Covid-19 pandemic
- In 2019, the foundation had net assets of more than $43bn
- Bill and Melinda Gates pumped more than $36bn into the foundation between 1994 and 2018