Bill and Melinda Gates announce decision to end marriage after 27 years


Bill and Melinda Gates at the University of Washington in 2017. (GeekWire File Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Bill and Melinda Gates have announced that they are ending their marriage after 27 years.

In tweets on Monday from their personal accounts, and signed by the couple, the Gateses said that the decision came after a great deal of thought and work. But the Gateses no longer believe they can grow together as a couple in this next phase of their lives.

The Microsoft co-founder met Melinda French after she started at Microsoft in 1987. The two married on Jan. 1, 1994, and raised three children together.

After leaving day-to-day duties at Microsoft, the couples focus turned to philanthropy, global health and education with the start of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. Headquartered in Seattle and co-chaired by the couple, the foundation has grown to become the worlds largest charitable foundation, with 1,600 employees and $54.8 billion issued in total grant payments since inception.

Bill and Melinda Gates visiting women in Jamsaut village in Bihar, India. (Gates Foundation Photo)

Bill Gates is the fourth richest person on the planet with a net worth of $130.5 billion. Melinda Gates was No. 5 on Forbes list of the worlds most powerful women in 2020. Bill Gates owns 1.37% of Microsofts outstanding shares, which are worth more than $26 billion, according to CNBC.

In 2015, Melinda Gates established a new organization called Pivotal Ventures, an independent executive office that gave her the opportunity to pursue ideas, projects and investments that might not fit within the structure of the Gates Foundation.

The divorce is the second high-profile split among Seattles rich and powerful tech leaders in recent years. Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos announced in January 2019 that they were splitting after 25 years of marriage. MacKenzie Scott, now the ex-wife of the Amazon CEO, married Seattle school teacher Dan Jewett earlier this year.

MacKenzie Scott has made a philanthropic splash as one of the worlds richest women, giving away more than $5 billion in 2020 to a variety of organizations.

Gates Medal of Freedom
Bill and Melinda Gates each receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2016 at The White House. (The White House via YouTube)

The Gateses have long painted a picture of success and happiness when it comes to the public image of their marriage. In a podcast interview last summer, Bill Gates called himself super lucky and said, This is the most profound partnership of my life. I had a partnership with Paul Allen to found Microsoft, I had one with Steve Ballmer to turn it into an amazing company. With our Foundation, with our kids, with our marriage, Ive got this amazing person, he said of his wife.

In the 2019 Netflix series Inside Bills Brain: Decoding Bill Gates, Melinda Gates laughed uncontrollably when the directors of the film relayed the name of the documentary series.

I am sorry, I am just not going to be able to not laugh in this part, when asked to describe Bills brain. Asked why shes laughing so much, Melinda exclaimed: Cause its chaos. Theres so much complexity in there.

During a May 2019 Seattle stop on a tour for her book Moment of Lift, Melinda Gates was introduced at McCaw Hall by her husband during a particularly emotional moment.

My gift to Melinda is simply to tell her that the moment we met was my moment of lift, Bill Gates said, holding back tears on stage.

GeekWire has reached out to representatives for Bill and Melinda Gates and will update with any further comment.

Check back for updates on this developing story.





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