NEW YORK: Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have announced divorce after 27 years, the couple said in a joint statement Tuesday.
According to the statement, “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage. 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,” they added.
Announcing their split on Twitter, the couple said, “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 this next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) May 3, 2021
“There is no such thing as a national solution to a global crisis,” they said in a previous statement on the foundation’s website. All countries must work together to end the pandemic and begin rebuilding economies,” it added.
In a statement late Monday, the foundation said Bill and Melinda would remain co-chairs and trustees and no changes to their roles have been planned. “They will continue to work together to shape and approve foundation strategies, advocate for the foundation’s issues, and set the organization’s overall direction,” the statement added.
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. In March 2020, 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.
In 2000, they began the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a philanthropic organization that has spent $53.8 billion in its fight against “poverty, disease and inequity around the world, according to the foundation’s website. The charity, which is considered one of the world’s largest, has invested more than $1.75 billion to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The couple’s divorce could create new questions about their wealth, most of which has yet to be donated to their foundation, despite co-creating the Giving Pledge, which encourages billionaires to give the majority of their wealth to charity.
The split comes following the high-profile divorce of Bezos, whose ex-wife took the name MacKenzie Scott and promptly began giving away billions to various causes without setting up a conventional foundation.