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In a nutshell: Recently divorced Bill Gates reportedly left the Microsoft board as the company investigated an affair he had with an employee almost twenty years earlier. A spokesperson for the billionaire has acknowledged the affair, claiming it was not related to his “decision to transition off the board.”
The Microsoft board reportedly hired a law firm in 2019 to investigate the affair after an employee alleged in a letter that she had a relationship with the former CEO over several years. The engineer is said to have asked Melinda French Gates, who was married to Bill Gates at the time, to read the letter, though it’s unclear whether she did.
“Microsoft received a concern in the latter half of 2019 that Bill Gates sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000,” a Microsoft spokesman said. “A committee of the board reviewed the concern, aided by an outside law firm, to conduct a thorough investigation.”
Gates’ spokesperson told the WSJ that “There was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably.” They emphasized that it was in no way related to his decision to leave the board, and that “he had expressed an interest in spending more time on his philanthropy starting several years earlier.” However, the WSJ writes that some board members “decided it was no longer suitable” for Gates to remain a director at the company. He resigned before the probe was complete.
Earlier this month, Bill and Melinda Gates announced that they were divorcing after 27 years of marriage. The WSJ reports that Melinda had been meeting with lawyers since 2019 as she planned for the divorce, and that previous revelations of Bill Gates spending time with Jeffery Epstein played a part in her decision.