Twenty-seven years after, Washington’s power couple, Bill and Melinda Gates announced that they were divorcing. However, they pledged to continue their philanthropic work together.
The announcement was first spotted on Twitter on Monday when both the billionaire co-founders of the second largest foundation in the world – Bill & Melinda Gate Foundation (BMGF) – tweeted about their decision to separate.
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage.
“Over the last 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,” their statement said.
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) May 3, 2021
Over their years of marriage, the now-former couple was able to raise three kids, Phoebe Adele Gates (18), Rory John Gates (21), and Jeniffer Katharine Gates (25).
According to the divorce petition, the couple has no minor children, especially considering that their youngest only turned 18 recently.
Although unstated, it feels like they waited this long to avoid involving any of their kids over custodian rights, as it is often considered in most divorce cases.
Bill & Melinda will remain as co-chair of the BMG Foundation
Among other things, Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation (BMGF) is the biggest co-venture for the now ex-couple, both of whom functions as co-chairpersons.
Launched sometime in 2000, BMG Foundation is a non-profit organization headquartered in Seattle, Washington, U.S.
The Bill & Melinda founded non-profit is ranked as the largest private philanthropic foundation in the U.S. and only second to Novo Nordisk Foundation on the global scale.
While the foundation holds great meaning to the duo as much as other benefactors from all over the world, Bill and Melinda wrote in their announcement that they would continue to work together at the foundation.
“…We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives,” the co-tweet read further.
Similarly, the foundation, in a separate statement, wrote that the couple would remain as co-chairs and trustees of the organisation, adding that “they will continue to work together to shape and approve foundation strategies, advocate for the foundation’s issues, and set the organization’s overall direction.”
Their choice to still run the foundation together could be largely attributed to the success story over the past two decades and still counting.
By the end of 2019, the non-profit organisation boasts an estimated asset value of $43.3 billion. However, the ex-couple had successfully gifted more than $36 billion to the Seattle-based foundation, specifically between 1994 when they married and 2018.
Bill and Melinda’s philanthropic journey was further strengthened in 2010 when they kickstarted The Giving Pledge and their friend (and fellow billionaire), Warren Buffett.
Up to date, the BMG foundation has remained very instrumental to humanity as the non-profit has donated quite a lot of fortune to various humanitarian programs ranging from malaria and polio eradication to child nutrition and vaccines.
Towards the end of 2020 – a year to remember – the BMG Foundation committed approximately $1.75 billion to COVID-19 relief and has since donated upward of $250 million to that course.
Melinda used to be a Product Manager at Microsoft when she met Bill
You are probably unaware of Bill and Melinda’s love story, how it started seven years after Melinda joined the now multi-trillion dollar company as a product manager.
According to Melinda, Gate had reached out to enquire for her contact number, as well as asked if they could go out “two weeks from tonight.”
“I have no idea what I’m doing two weeks from tonight,” Melinda replied Bill Gates, who also responded by saying, “You’re not spontaneous enough for me.”
Melinda revealed that Bill called her that same evening after giving him her number. And the rest of their 27-years event followed until now that they both have to pathways to start afresh.
Of course, 27-years is a big deal, and this is evident in the overall company’s market capitalisation, which grew from $35 billion when the duo met to a current market cap. That is close to $2 trillion.
Apart from its huge market cap., Microsoft also ranks third on the global scale of the most valuable companies globally, next to only Apple and Saudi Aramco, which ranked second and first, respectively.
Bill & Melinda Gate’s Children will inherit $10 million each
Probably, one of the most argued topics you do come across amid the announcement of their separation; how much are the Children set to inherit from their parents?
Going by their joint petition for dissolution of marriage, Bill & Melinda claimed that their legal union was “irretrievably broken,” however, they reached an agreement on how to divide their marital assets.
For now, no details of how they intend to split their wealth are disclosed in the filing in King County Superior Court in Seattle.
Regardless, going by what has been made obvious for a very long time, most of the duo’s wealth will be channelled into their philanthropy business, meaning that the Children may craft their own path towards becoming billionaires.
Also, according to Business Insider, each of the Gates children will inherit $10 million, and the rest of the Gates’ fortune will go to charity.”
Whether the $10 million results from the divorce sentiment and if the inheritance could go higher is still not clear.
What else to know about Bill and Melinda Gates
However, Bill & Melinda’s divorce takes a queue behind that of Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott, two of which also separated after 26-years of marriage, which came to an end in 2019.
Both Bill and Melinda have lived an impactful live other than being tech gurus and have and still plans to contribute immensely to humanity.
Bill Gates, who is also the co-founder of Microsoft, is ranked fourth on the list of the richest man on earth; he used to hold the first position before he was later overtaken by Jeff, Benard Arnault Elon Musk, respectively.
He currently boasts of a net worth of $124 billion, most of which he claimed will be donated to charity.
On the other hand, Melinda is also a billionaire. With a current net worth estimated to be around $70 billion, she ranks among the top 10 most “powerful women” globally, sitting at No. 5 on the Forbes list for 2020.
Bill and Melinda share a lot in common, especially regarding philanthropy, which will still unite both of them together even after their separation.
“Even before we got married, we talked about how we would eventually spend a lot of time on philanthropy,” Bill wrote in the foundation’s annual letter, released in 2018.
“We think that’s a basic responsibility of anyone with a lot of money. Once you’ve taken care of yourself and your children, the best use of extra wealth is to give it back to society,” Bill added.
Melinda also attributed her interest in philanthropy to her upbringing in the Catholic church, which according to her, shaped her perception of social justice.
“We both come from families that believed in leaving the world better than you found it,” she wrote.
From here onward, we can only wish both Bill and Melinda the very best as they explore their new reality.