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Why Did Bill Gates Leave Microsoft Board? Reportedly, A Probe Into A Prior Affair

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Why Did Bill Gates Leave Microsoft Board? Reportedly, A Probe Into A Prior Affair

An investigation into a romantic relationship with an engineer at Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) was the reason why the company’s board members decided that Bill Gates needed to resign as a director of the company, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

What Happened: The relationship with the female employee came to light in 2019 after the company “received a concern” that “Bill Gates sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000,” as per a company spokesperson, reported the Journal.

“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,” the spokesperson said.

Some members of the board, during the investigation, deemed it unsuitable for Gates to continue as a director, people familiar with the matter told the Journal.

Gates reportedly resigned the position before the investigation was completed or a formal decision was taken by the board, another person told the publication.

A spokesperson for Gates denied that he quit the board in relation to the affair. 

“There was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably,” said the spokesperson — adding that his “decision to transition off the board was in no way related to this matter. In fact, he had expressed an interest in spending more time on his philanthropy starting several years earlier.”

Why It Matters: Gates remained the company’s CEO until 2000, chief software architect until 2006, and was chairman until 2014. He resigned from the software giant’s board on Mar. 13, 2020, three months after he was re-elected to serve as a director, noted the Journal.

At the time, Gates purportedly cited his desire to focus on philanthropy as the reason for leaving the board in regulatory filings and on social media.

See Also: Why Bill And Melinda Gates' Divorce Reflects Current Pressures Of Silicon Valley

Earlier, at the beginning of the month, Gates and his wife Melinda French Gates announced their decision to end their marriage.

Last week, the Journal reported that a concern for Melinda Gates was her husband’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender and that the divorce had been in the works for a long time.

The husband-wife duo runs the Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private charitable foundation, with a trust endowment of $49.8 billion.

Gates had said in his divorce announcement that the couple will “continue to work together at the foundation.”

The divorce could mean that Melinda Gates could walk away with half of Bill Gates’ $130-billion wealth, which includes 268,000 acres of farmland spread over the United States.

The process of splitting assets has already begun, according to filings, with Melinda Gates getting stakes in four companies.

Price Action: Microsoft shares closed 2.11% higher at $248.15 in Friday’s regular session. 

Read Next: Amazon Billionaire And Jeff Bezos Ex-Wife Mackenzie Scott Marries Seattle Science Teacher

Photo by World Economic Forum on Wikimedia

 

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