Bill Gates’ money manager accused of making racist comments to staff

Michael Larson has grown the Microsoft co-founder’s wealth to from $10 billion to almost $130 billion

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Bill Gates’ money manager of nearly three decades is under fire for allegedly fostering a toxic work culture that included engaging in bullying, racism and sexual harassment.

For more than 27 years, Michael Larson, 61, has managed Gates’ money and has grown the Microsoft co-founder’s wealth from $10 billion to almost $130 billion. Larson reportedly invested Gates’ money in farmland, hotels, stocks, bonds, and even a bowling alley.

According to a New York Times report, several former staffers at Gates’ money-management firm, Cascade Investment, also called Bill and Melinda Gates Investments, describe Larson as a cruel businessman who often made racist and sexist remarks, bullied staffers, and retaliated against workers who quit the company. 

Michael Larson thegrio.com
(Credit: Getty Images)

Read More: Bill Gates had extramarital affair, pursued relationships at work

Former Cascade employees told the Times that Larson had photos of nude women stored on his phone that he shared with other employees. He allegedly compared those women to the head of the firm’s human resources department. Larson once asked a female employee if she would strip for money, and questioned several men in the office about which female staffers they wanted to have sex with, according to the report. 

When a Black employee, Stacy Ybarra, said she voted one Election Day, Larson reportedly said she lives “in the ghetto, and everybody knows that Black people don’t vote.” Larson was so angry when Ybarra quit working for Cascade that “he shorted shares of her new company in an effort to deflate its stock price,” the Times writes. The Times notes that at least seven people who complained about Larson’s misconduct to Gates received hush money as long as they agreed not to speak publicly about the incidents.

Larson has denied making crude and sexist remarks to workers, telling the Times “This is not true,” but he did not deny all of the allegations, according to the publication. 

“During his tenure, Mr. Larson has managed over 380 people, and there have been fewer than five complaints related to him in total,” Chris Giglio, Larson’s spokesman, told the Times. “Any complaint was investigated and treated seriously and fully examined, and none merited Mr. Larson’s dismissal.”

In a statement to the Times, Larson acknowledged, “Years ago, earlier in my career, I used harsh language that I would not use today. I regret this greatly but have done a lot of work to change.”

Courtney Wade, a spokeswoman for Melinda Gates, told the Times that she “was unaware of most of these allegations given her lack of ownership of and control over BMGI.”

The allegations against Larson come weeks after Bill and Melissa Gates announced they were calling it quits after 27 years of marriage. As theGRIO reported, Gates recently 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

Read More: Bill and Melinda Gates announce they are ending marriage

The investigation reportedly took place in 2019.

In this Feb. 1, 2019, file photo, Bill and Melinda Gates smile at each other during an interview in Kirkland, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

“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 is also receiving criticism over his relationship with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein who died in 2019.

*theGRIO’s Biba Adams contributed to this report.

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