Bill and Melinda Gates
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Bill Gates, co-founder and former CEO of Microsoft, said in a tweet on Monday that he and his wife, Melinda Gates, will be splitting up after 27 years. The two will keep working together on philanthropic work, which has addressed education, gender equality and health care.
The decision reflects a personal change at the top of American business.
Gates led Microsoft as CEO from its founding in 1975 until 2000, leaving Steve Ballmer to run the company.
Financial details of the Gateses parting ways are not yet clear. Bill Gates owns 1.37% of Microsoft’s outstanding shares, which are worth more than $26 billion, according to FactSet. The couple were creators, along with Warren Buffett, of the Giving Pledge, which involves giving away more than half of their wealth.
Last year Bill Gates stepped down from Microsoft’s board as the coronavirus became a force around the world. He began spending more time on the nonprofit Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation alongside Melinda Gates. The two are co-chairs and trustees of the foundation, which launched in 2000.
At one point the couple decided to move $20 billion worth of Microsoft stock to the foundation as they sought to increase their commitment to philanthropy, Bill Gates wrote in a 2019 blog post. Today the foundation has over $51 billion in assets, according to a tax filing.
Bill and Melinda Gates met at Microsoft. She had been a marketing manager at the software company. The two got married in Hawaii in 1994 after Bill Gates had weighed the pros and cons on a blackboard.
Bill Gates is the world’s fourth richest person, behind Bezos, LVMH’s Bernard Arnault and Tesla’s Elon Musk, according to Forbes.
The announcement comes two years after Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said he and his wife, MacKenzie, were getting divorced. Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos are among the world’s richest people, and Amazon and Microsoft compete in the cloud computing business. Amazon said earlier this year that Bezos would be stepping down from his post as CEO and that cloud chief Andy Jassy would replace him.
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