Bill and Melinda Gates announce divorce after 27 years of marriage

Bill and Melinda Gates, who jointly run the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private philanthropic foundation, announced on Monday they will divorce after 27 years of marriage.

The Microsoft co-founder tweeted that despite “a lot of work on our relationship” the two decided to end their marriage because they “no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”

The former couple will continue to work together at their foundation that “works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives.”

Bill Gates stepped down from Microsoft in 2020 to focus on the Gates Foundation during the coronavirus pandemic.

KEY BACKGROUND

Bill and Melinda Gates met at Microsoft in 1987 shortly after Melinda started working there as a product manager, and the two married seven years later in 1994. Bill Gates became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire after Microsoft went public in 1986. The couple founded their charitable organization in 2000, which works to improve global health and create equal opportunities for people around the world. Gates stepped down as Microsoft CEO in 2008 to focus on the foundation. The Gates Foundation committed $1.75 billion over two years toward Covid-19 relief in 2020. As of January 2021, Bill and Melinda Gates have given over $29 billion to philanthropic causes. The Gates Foundation has a trust endowment of $49.8 billion.

The Gates’ divorce comes nearly two years after another of the world’s richest couples, Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, finalized their divorce. The Bezos divorce left MacKenzie Bezos with a 4% stake in Amazon, and made her one of the richest women in the world. MacKenzie Bezos signed the “Giving Pledge” Bill and Melinda Gates created with Warren Buffet to donate the majority of their respective wealths to charity.

While the Gates’ statement said the two plan to continue working together on their foundation, their divorce could impact how much they individually, or jointly, give to the Gates Foundation.

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