Bill Gates was advised against flirting with employee in 2008
Citing unnamed sources, a recent Wall Street Journal report claimed 13 years ago, top Microsoft executives told the company's billionaire founder Bill Gates to stop sending "flirtatious emails" to a female employee. At the time, Gates reportedly said he would stop. However, a spokesperson for the billionaire strongly refuted the claims in the report, while Microsoft didn't respond to requests for comment. Here's more.
According to the report, in 2008, Microsoft's then-General Counsel and now President and Vice-Chairman, Brad Smith, met Gates after the company found the latter's lewd emails to a female employee in the middle management. Smith was accompanied by the then-Chief People Officer Lisa Brummel. Gates reportedly did not deny sending the inappropriate emails and said that he would stop.
WSJ claimed that Microsoft board members briefed on the matter at the time refused to take further action. The board cited the lack of any physical interaction between Gates and the female employee as the reason. Microsoft confirmed WSJ's reportage on Monday but declined to comment. Also, Smith reportedly did not respond to requests for comment made through Microsoft.
According to a Microsoft spokesperson, Gates's emails dated back to 2007 and were discovered in 2008. According to the company, Gates proposed meeting the employee outside work and off-campus. "While flirtatious, they were not overtly sexual, but were deemed to be inappropriate," it added. Additionally, the employee never made a complaint about the incident and it wasn't previously reported either.
Reacting to the WSJ report, a written statement from Gates's personal office read, "These claims are false, recycled rumors from sources who have no direct knowledge, and in some cases have significant conflicts of interest." Gates retired as a full-time employee shortly after the emails were discovered in 2008. However, he remained the company's chairman until 2014 and was on the board until 2020.