SEATTLE – Bill and Melinda Gates said Monday that they are divorcing but would keep working together at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the largest charitable foundations in the world.
In identical tweets, the Microsoft co-founder and his wife said they were ending their marriage of 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 said. “We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”
Bill Gates was formerly the world's richest person, and his fortune is estimated at well over $100 billion. How the couple end up settling their estate and any impact on the foundation will be closely watched, especially after another high-profile Seattle-area billionaire couple recently ended their marriage.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos finalized their divorce in 2019. MacKenzie Scott has since remarried and now focuses on her own philanthropy after receiving a 4% stake in Amazon, worth more than $36 billion.
The Gateses were married in 1994 in Hawaii. They met after she began working at Microsoft as a product manager in 1987.
In her 2019 memoir, “The Moment of Lift,” Melinda Gates wrote about her childhood, life and private struggles as the wife of a public icon and stay-at-home mom with three kids. She won Bill Gates' heart after meeting at a work dinner, sharing a mutual love of puzzles and beating him at a math game.
She also detailed the ways they navigated imbalances in their marriage and parenting journey and noted how working together at the foundation made their relationship better.
“Bill and I are equal partners,” she said in a 2019 interview with The Associated Press. “Men and women should be equal at work.”
The Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the most influential private foundation in the world, with an endowment worth nearly $50 billion. It has focused on global health and development and U.S. education issues since forming in 2000.
Melinda Gates has increasingly built her profile as a champion of women and girls. She launched her private Pivotal Ventures investment and incubation company in 2015 and recently partnered with Scott for a newly announced equity challenge.