By Jennifer Ugwueke
Bill Gates acknowledged through a spokeswoman that he had an extramarital affair with a Microsoft employee, which Microsoft said led its board to investigate the “intimate relationship” shortly before he resigned from the board last year.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft board members hired a law firm in late 2019 after a Microsoft engineer alleged in a letter that she had a sexual relationship with Bill Gates over several years.
Board members at Microsoft Corp. made a decision in 2020 that it wasn’t appropriate for its co-founder Bill Gates to continue sitting on its board as they investigated the billionaire’s prior romantic relationship with a female Microsoft employee that was deemed inappropriate.
An unnamed spokeswoman for Gates acknowledged to The Journal that there was an affair almost 20 years ago and that it ended “amicably.” The spokesperson told The Journal that “his decision to transition off the board was in no way related to this matter.”
When he left Microsoft’s board last year, Gates said he was stepping down to focus on philanthropy.
It is not clear what role the investigation or the affair, which took place two decades ago, played in the decision the Microsoft co-founder and his wife, Melinda French Gates, made to divorce after 27 years of marriage.
When they announced their divorce earlier this month, the couple posted identical and simultaneous tweets saying that “after a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage.” In a divorce filing that day, French Gates called the marriage “irretrievably broken.”
Earlier Sunday, The New York Times reported that Gates had developed “a reputation for questionable conduct in work-related settings.”
The Times reported that on at least a few occasions, Gates made overtures to women who worked for him at Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Times cited people with direct knowledge of his behaviour.