Bill and Melinda Gates announce decision to end marriage after 27 years

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Bill and Melinda Gates at the University of Washington in 2017. (GeekWire File Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Bill and Melinda Gates have announced that they are ending their marriage after 27 years.

In tweets on Monday from their personal accounts, and signed by the couple, the Gateses said that the decision came after a “great deal of thought and work.” But the Gateses no longer believe they can grow together as a couple in this “next phase” of their lives.

The Microsoft co-founder met Melinda French after she started at Microsoft in 1987. The two married on Jan. 1, 1994, and raised three children together.

After leaving day-to-day duties at Microsoft, the couple’s focus turned to philanthropy, global health and education with the start of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. Headquartered in Seattle and co-chaired by the couple, the foundation has grown to become the world’s largest charitable foundation, with 1,600 employees and $54.8 billion issued in total grant payments since inception.

Bill Gates is the fourth richest person on the planet with a net worth of $130.5 billion. Melinda Gates was No. 5 on Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful women in 2020. Bill Gates owns 1.37% of Microsoft’s outstanding shares, which are worth more than $26 billion, according to CNBC.

In 2015, Melinda Gates established a new organization called Pivotal Ventures, an independent executive office that gave her the opportunity to pursue ideas, projects and investments that might not fit within the structure of the Gates Foundation.

The divorce is the second high-profile split among Seattle’s rich and powerful tech leaders in recent years. Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos announced in January 2019 that they were splitting after 25 years of marriage. MacKenzie Scott, now the ex-wife of the Amazon CEO, married Seattle school teacher Dan Jewett earlier this year.

Check back for updates on this developing story.





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