Microsoft probed Bill Gates's affair with employee in 2019
Two weeks after Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda French Gates announced their split, aWall Street Journal report has revealed a 2019 investigation into a female engineer's allegations that her billionaire boss had an affair with her over the years. Citing unnamed sources, the publication stated that Microsoft's board members hired an independent law firm to conduct the probe.
Members didn't want Gates serving on board during the probe
During the investigation, some board members were skeptical of Gates being a part of the company's board of directors. In response, Gates stepped down from Microsoft's board on March 13, 2020. This was reportedly before the conclusion of the board's investigation. According to New York Times, he was known "for making clumsy approaches to women in and out of the office."
Spokeswoman claims Gates's resignation was unrelated to board's investigation
However, Gates's spokeswoman confirmed that the billionaire had an affair 20 years ago that "ended amicably," while emphasizing that his decision to step down from the board was unrelated to the investigation. Officially, Gates had stepped down to focus on philanthropy through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Interestingly, he had also vacated his board seat at Berkshire Hathaway Inc. on the same day.
Couple clashed over Gates's handling of close associate's misconduct case
However, the affair wasn't the only bone of contention in the marriage. In 2017, the couple reportedly clashed over Gates's handling of a previously undisclosed sexual misconduct case against longtime money manager Michael Larson. Unnamed sources claim that Gates chose to settle the matter confidentially despite his wife insisting on an impartial external investigation. Larson, meanwhile, managed to hold onto his job post settlement.
Reports suggest Melinda's concerns over Epstein caused divorce
Bill and Melinda Gates married in January 1994 and initiated divorce proceedings just recently. Melinda was reportedly concerned about her husband's dealings with Jeffrey Epstein, who was a convicted sex offender before Gates met him. Rumors also blamed the divorce on Zhe Shelly Wang, a translator at the couple's charitable foundation, who is speculated to have shared a close relationship with either of them.
Gates continues to work as an advisor to Nadella
Gates is a Harvard dropout who founded Microsoft in 1975 with childhood friend Paul Allen, which catapulted the duo among the world's richest. Gates was the CEO of Microsoft until 2000, following which he served as the Chief Software Architect until 2006, and Chairman until 2014. Presently, Gates continues to work as a technical advisor to the current CEO, Satya Nadella.
Optics over #MeToo movement might have catalyzed Gates's departure
Sources further claim Nadella was aware of the female employee's allegations. Some board members were allegedly concerned about Gates's Epstein connection, but were placated after being assured that their relationship was restricted to philanthropy. Concerns about the optics of Gates's behavior in the wake of the #MeToo movement was reportedly the final straw, which suggests that his departure wasn't a knee-jerk reaction.