Bill Gates, 65, who co-founded Microsoft in 1975, is the fourth richest man in the world and has a net worth of $130.5 billion, according to Forbes. Last March, he stepped down from his role on Microsoft’s board of directors to focus solely on his work with the foundation.
Bill and Melinda Gates, 56, met in 1987 while working at Microsoft. Melinda, who was 24 at the time, had just started working as a marketing manager. Bill was 31 and the CEO. They married in 1994, and a year later, Bill became the richest man in the world.
After 27 years of marriage, the couple announced in a joint statement on Monday that they have decided to terminate their marriage.
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) May 3, 2021
— Melinda French Gates (@melindagates) May 3, 2021
The billionaire couple have three children and jointly run the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The organization has spent billions fighting causes such as infectious diseases and encouraging vaccinations in children.
The Gates – along with investor Warren Buffett – are behind the Giving Pledge, which calls on billionaires to commit to giving away the majority of their wealth to good causes.
He made his money through the firm he co-founded in the 1970s, Microsoft, the world’s biggest software company.
The pair both posted the statement announcing their divorce on Twitter.
“Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives,” it read.
“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 the next phase of our lives.
“We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”
How did they get together?
Melinda joined Microsoft as a product manager in 1987, and the two sat together at a business dinner that year in New York.
They began dating, but as Bill told a Netflix documentary: “We cared a lot for each other and there were only two possibilities: either, we were going to break up or we were going to get married.”
Melinda said she found Bill – methodical it seems even in matters of the heart – writing a list on a whiteboard with the “pros and the cons of getting married”.
They got married in 1994 on the Hawaiian island of Lanai, reportedly hiring up all the local helicopters to stop unwanted guests flying over.
Bill Gates stepped down from Microsoft’s board last year to focus on his philanthropic activities.