Bill Gates, who co-founded Microsoft, and his wife Melinda, are divorcing after 27 years of marriage.
The couple, who co-chair the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a global health and development charity, announced their split on Twitter, saying they would continue to work together at the foundation.
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” they said in a joint statement posted by each on their Twitter feed. “Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works over the world 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. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”
The couple met in 1987 after Melinda became a product manager at Microsoft and were seated next to each other at a business dinner in New York City. They were married in 1994 in Hawaii.
In a 2019 Netflix documentary entitled “Inside Bill’s Brain,” Melinda laughed about the memory of finding a whiteboard in Bill’s bedroom that listed “the pros and the cons of getting married,” CNBC reported.
Melinda Gates spent a decade developing multimedia products at Microsoft before leaving to focus on their family and philanthropy, according to the Gates Foundation site. The couple have three children: Jenn, Rory, and Phoebe.
In 2015, Melinda Gates started Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubator to help solve problems facing women and families. Her book, “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World,” was published in 2019.
In a USA TODAY editorial in 2019, she decried the still-present gender gap. “Based on data from its widely-respected Global Gender Gap Index, WEF estimates that it will take the United States another 208 years to reach gender equality. You read that right. At the current pace of change, gender equality won’t arrive in the U.S. until the year 2227.”
The Gates Foundation, founded in 1994, has more than 1,600 employees, and has issued grant payments of more than $54.8 billion, according to the foundation’s web site.
Last year, Bill Gates, formerly the world’s richest person, said he was stepping down from Microsoft’s board to focus on philanthropy. And he became a prominent spokesperson last year as coronavirus spread, because Gates had long warned about a global pandemic.
He expressed disbelief that a conspiracy theory had him masterminding the delivery of microchips in COVID-19 vaccine shots for the purpose of tracking people.
It makes no sense technologically, he told USA TODAY in January. Even if it were possible, “Why would I be involved in that?” he said. “I don’t get it.”
Gates was Microsoft’s CEO until 2000 and since then has gradually scaled back his involvement in the company he started with Paul Allen in 1975. He transitioned out of a day-to-day role in Microsoft in 2008 and served as chairman of the board until 2014.
Gates, 65, is No. 4 on The Forbes Billionaires list. with $124 billion, behind Jeff Bezos ($177 billion), Elon Musk ($157 billion), Bernard Arnault & Family ($150 billion)… and ahead of Mark Zuckerberg ($97 billion).
Contributing: Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
This story is developing and will be updated.
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.