In a joint statement on Monday, the couple said the reason for their fissure is simple: “we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in the next phase of our lives.”
“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,” a tweet from the former pair reads.
“We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation,” it adds.
Gates co-founded the tech giant with Paul Allen in 1975 and acted as its CEO until 2000 when he left now-Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer at the helm.
Gates still acted as chairman and chief software architect but ultimately stepped down from Microsoft’s board as the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the world and its economy.
The pair have been incredibly philanthropic and have donated tens of billions of dollars to charity.
Gates and Melinda have a storied history together and began their decades-long relationship in 1987 after crossing paths at a dinner during a trade convention in New York when Melinda was hired on as a product manager at Microsoft.
“There were two chairs open… I sat down. The next chair was empty. Ten minutes later, Bill came in and sat down next to me,” Melinda recalled in 2019 interview during an episode of “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations.”
Bill Gates and Melinda Gates announced on Monday they would be divorcing after 27 years of marriage. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/WireImage)
At the time, Melinda had rebuffed Gates’ invitation to hit up a dance club with him and some friends as she had previously made plans with another pal.
It wasn’t until the pair saw each other in the parking lot at Microsoft HQ months later that they began chatting away and Gates extended another invitation for Melinda to join him for dinner.
Melinda explained in a 2015 conversation with Makers that she didn’t believe Gates was “spontaneous enough” for her as the tech wizard had given Melinda a date that was two weeks out.
“And I said to him, ‘Two weeks from tonight? I have no idea what I’m doing two weeks from tonight.’ And I said, ‘You’re not spontaneous enough for me,’” Melinda said. “He called an hour later and said, ‘Is this spontaneous enough for you?'” she continued.
Bill Gates, left, and Melinda French Gates, co-chairmen of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, hold a press conference on day three of the 2010 World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday, Jan. 29, 2010. (Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Melinda would go on to work for Microsoft in a marketing capacity and was eventually promoted to General Manager of Information Products in the early 1990s.
Gates admitted that it didn’t take much time for him and Melinda to know that they would one day be married.
In the 2019 Netflix docuseries, “Inside Bill’s Brain,” Melinda recalled when the centibillionaire listed out his pros and cons of marriage on a whiteboard.
″He had to make a decision,” she said through laughter. She added that Gates “wanted to be married, but he didn’t know whether he could actually commit to it and [run] Microsoft.”
“Sort of to our surprise, certainly my surprise, we said, ‘Hey, I love you.’ And she said she loved me and then it was like, ‘Wow, and now what is going to happen?’” he said, adding, “You know, we cared a lot for each other and there were only two possibilities: either, we were going to break up or we were going to get married.”
The now exes would tie the knot on January 1, 1994, in Hawaii – some two years before Melinda would exit the company altogether as the pair were eager to start a family.
Throughout their 27 years as man and wife, the Gates would welcome three children: Jennifer, Rory and Phoebe and would also start their widely philanthropic Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000.
The pair currently share a net worth of more than $130 billion, although it remains unclear how their dissolution of assets will be handled or if the tech honcho will exercise a Jeff Bezos approach to his divorce and employ a quick close with a big check to Melinda.