Bill and Melinda Gates announced via Twitter Monday that they plan to call their marriage, which has lasted nearly three decades, ends. The news is making waves both in the world of philanthropy, where the couple shaped the field as co-founders of the multibillion-dollar Gates Foundation, as well as in business and tech circles, where the romance of the former couple began.
It is well known that Bill Gates co-founded the Microsoft Corporation in 1975 with his childhood friend Paul Allen. It’s not quite as well known as Melinda Gates, then Melinda French, was CEO of Microsoft when the two met and started dating in 1987.
Their origin story is this: After flirting a bit in the parking lot at work, Bill asked Melinda to go out with him two weeks early. Melinda wasn’t impressed with his lack of spontaneity, so she rejected the richest man in the world. He later called her and tried for a date the same evening. They both loved puzzles. She beat him in a math game.
They married in Hawaii in 1994. Since then, the two have shared three children, a billion dollar software empire and control of one of the richest and most influential philanthropic foundations in the world.
In his book 2019, The moment of rise: how women’s empowerment is changing the world, Melinda Gates describes how she and Bill Gates battled power dynamics as they began to co-lead their hugely influential and well-funded charitable foundation.
The Gates Foundation has published an annual letter every year since 2009. First, Bill wrote the letter independently, although he and his wife were co-founders of their foundation. When, in 2013, Melinda wanted to co-write the letter, while she was co-chair of their organization, she described encountering friction.
“We both got angry … I thought we were going to kill each other. I felt, ‘Well, that might end the marriage here,” “she recounts in her book. The marriage lasted another eight years, but Bill’s sole control over the annual letters did not and eventually became joint letters from the foundation co-chairs.
Bill Gates has a net worth of around $ 124 billion in 2021, according to Forbes. Additionally, the family owns a mansion in Washington state worth around $ 127 million and a beachfront home in Southern California worth around $ 43 million.
The statement the Gates tweeted on Monday says they will “continue [their] are working together on the foundation, “but does not address how the financial holdings of the former couple might be reallocated by the split. This is an issue that takes on greater significance to the public as the family has the used to donate large amounts of personal wealth through their foundation.
Newsweek contacted the Gates Foundation for comment. This story will be updated with any response.