Bill Gates had extramarital affair, pursued relationships at work

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Social media joked about sliding into the direct messages of Microsoft founder Bill Gates after he and his wife, Melinda French Gates, announced the end of their 27-year marriage weeks ago. 

Many speculated on what would cause the end of such a long relationship, including rumors of infidelity. 

Microsoft founder Bill Gates speaks during “All In WA: A Concert For COVID-19 Relief” last June in Washington. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images for All In WA)

Sunday, Gates confirmed through a spokesman that he had an extramarital affair with an employee and that it was cause for an internal investigation by the company’s board of directors. 

“There was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably,” Gates’ spokeswoman, Bridgitt Arnold, said in an emailed statement to The Washington Post

The investigation reportedly took place in 2019.

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“Microsoft received a concern in the latter half of 2019 that Bill Gates sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000,” company spokesman Frank Shaw said in a released statement. “A committee of the Board reviewed the concern, aided by an outside law firm to conduct a thorough investigation. Throughout the investigation, Microsoft provided extensive support to the employee who raised the concern.”

Gates stepped down from the board of the company he founded in March of 2020, but officials have said it was unrelated to the probe. 

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According to reports, the software pioneer occasionally tried to initiate relations with women who worked for him. After a presentation by one Microsoft staffer in 2006, Gates is said to have left the meeting and sent the woman an email asking her out for dinner. A person who read the email to The New York Times quoted him as writing to her: “If this makes you uncomfortable, pretend it never happened.”

Gates and Melinda French met at Microsoft, which he ran, in 1987, then they married in 1994. The Times says he “flirted with her when they sat together at a conference, then asked her out when they ran into each other in a company parking lot.”

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The couple announced their divorce via Twitter, where they said “after a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage.”

The two run The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is one of the world’s largest philanthropies. They have issued more than $55 billion in grants to organizations focused on addressing inequities in global health, as well as investments in U.S. education. 

Gates has a net worth of more than $130.5 billion and is ranked fourth on the list of the world’s wealthiest people regularly published by Forbes.

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