Ayyyeee…What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea that involves a tech giant who is also a “philantrophist” and his wife are divorcing.
Bill and Melinda Gates, who run one of the world’s largest philanthropies, are divorcing after 27 years of marriage.
They both announced the divorce on Twitter in posts at the same time. “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” they wrote. Bill Gates who is the co-founder of the software giant Microsoft, has an estimated net worth of $130.5 billion, ranking him fourth on Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest people.
They added that together they would continue to run the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, whose mission is to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives. “We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives,” according to the statements. According to Melinda Gates’s divorce filing, obtained by the gossip website TMZ, the couple signed a prenuptial agreement. She is not requesting spousal support. Her filing called the marriage “irretrievably broken.” Bill Gates filed a joinder, meaning he supports the dissolution of the marriage. The Gateses met at Microsoft, where Melinda worked developing multimedia products for the company. They married in 1994 on the Hawaiian island of Lanai. Melinda left Microsoft in 1996. The couple have three children.
Bill Gates stepped down as chief software architect at Microsoft and gave up his duties in 2008 to work full time at the foundation. He stepped down as Microsoft’s chairman in 2014. The couple have spent much of the past two decades focused on their foundation.
Their philanthropy issued nearly $55 billion in total grant payments through the end of 2019, focusing on addressing the inequities in global health and the U.S. education systems.
The end of their marriage comes a little more than two years after another Seattle billionaire, Jeff Bezos, announced that he and his wife at the time, MacKenzie, were divorcing. Bezos, the world’s wealthiest person, founded the e-commerce giant Amazon and owns The Washington Post. Their divorce settlement, a year later, set a record, giving MacKenzie an Amazon stake worth approximately $36 billion at the time.
While the Gates Foundation has long sought to address global inequity, it focused increasingly on how to end the coronavirus pandemic, whose impact is likely to be more profound on the developing world. In the past year, the foundation has committed $1.75 billion as part of its global covid response, funding the development of vaccines, tests, and drugs, supporting efforts to testing and trace those infected, and paying to prepare health systems for rising cases in the developing world.
Melinda Gates who is 56 years old began to emerge from her husband’s shadow as she took a larger role at their philanthropy two decades ago. Along with her father in law, Bill Gates Sr., she oversaw the foundation while her husband continued his full-time work at Microsoft. In that time, she traveled the globe to see where the need for the philanthropy was greatest and to set the agenda. She also became a more prominent public figure, speaking about malaria at the White House in 2006 and before the U.N. General Assembly in 2010 about reducing poverty and halting the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The Gateses will continue to work together on foundation strategies and direction. In their tweets, the Gateses asked for “space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”