When Melinda Gates, née French, was asked why she married the CEO of Microsoft, who was nine years her senior, she insisted it was out of love.
“I met Bill when we were both still young. I was 23 and he was 32, and he was still building the business. I saw what it took. So while the media talked about him in a way, he wasn’t the person I knew, she told the Seattle Times in 2013. “So we grew up during these times together.”
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“There are definitely everyday tactical pieces that you might not always agree on,” Melinda Gates, 56, told director and musician Lin Manuel Miranda in a 2018 interview posted on Facebook.
“But I would say this, none of us are afraid of a little water in the system, neither in business nor in our marriage. This is how you grow up. And so we will have difficult conversations.
On Monday the couple announced that their 27-year marriage was over, after concluding after much thought, they didn’t believe they “could grow together as a couple in the next phase of our lives.”
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The announcement of the couple, who have three children, Jennifer, Phoebe and Rory Gates, and estimated to be worth $ 130 billion, has echoed in the worlds of philanthropy and global healthcare. In 2000, they together created the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private charity with nearly $ 50 billion in assets and whose funds operate in at least 135 counties. The programs focus on development, health and education.
“We have raised three amazing children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable everyone to lead healthy and productive lives,” they said in their statement. “We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”
The announcement came a little more than Seattle-based Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced that he and his 25-year-old wife, Mackenzie Scott, were going their separate ways. Earlier this year, Scott announced that she had married a high school teacher, Dan Jewett. The writer is now worth $ 63 billion after the divorce between her and the founder of Amazon, after a period of separation.
While Bezos is the richest man in the world, worth an estimated $ 200 billion, Gates has seen his position slide to fourth, behind Tesla founder Elon Musk and Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH Moët Hennessy .
The two were co-chairs and trustees of their nonprofit Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, which was launched in 2000. As word of their announcement spread last night, there was undoubtedly speculation as to how the Seattle-based foundation would continue to operate it. .
They sought to address the fears in part of their statement
“We continue to share our belief in this mission and we will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe that we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our life.
Melinda Gates had often emphasized that it was more important to find the right partner than to find the best job.
“One of the lessons we try to talk to our kids about, or I tell them quite often, is this: if you choose to have a partner in life, the one you choose is probably the most important decision you make. you take, ”she said during a 2019 lecture at a New York City high school. “Even more important than your career, where you go to college, where you go to high school.”
She added, “People have a makeover with partners in life, but it’s easier to redo your job and change a lot of careers than it is to change partners. So I say, try to choose very carefully and wisely. “
Over the years, the couple have also indicated that they have disagreements over things. “I’m always interested in his point of view and I know he’s always interested in mine, I think sometimes our disagreements sharpen the questions we ask ourselves,” she says.
Bill Gates, 65, left Harvard to co-found Microsoft with his friend Paul Allen in 1975. He owned 49 percent of Microsoft when it went public in 1986, making him an instant multimillionaire. With Microsoft’s explosive growth, he quickly became the richest person in the world.
After making the company one of the world’s most valuable technology companies, he stepped down from the board in March 2020 to focus on philanthropy. Earlier this year, Bezos announced that he was stepping down as CEO of Amazon, to be replaced by Andy Jassy.
Bill Gates seems to have less to say about marriage than his wife. With a bit of a geek take on things, he once said, “Married life is a simpler life. Who I spend my time with is set in advance. “
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