Bill Gates had an "inappropriate" sexual relationship with a female Microsoft employee in 2000 and resigned last year while an investigation into the relationship was being conducted by the company's board, according to a new report on Sunday. The company's board learnt about the affair after the female employee wrote a letter in 2019 alleging that she and Gates had a sexual relationship over the years, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Interestingly, the female employee also requested the company's board to send the letter to Bill's wife Melinda Gates so that she could read it and get to know the real picture of her husband. Gates, 65, quit the board suddenly in March 2020 while the investigation was still underway.
The female employee requested changes to her Microsoft job and also asked that Gates' now-estranged wife Melinda read her letter. However, it's unclear if she finally read that letter. During the probe, some members of the Microsoft board grew concerned about the allegations and decided that Gates should step down after the relationship was deemed to be "inappropriate", according to the Wall Street Journal.
The same day Gates quit Microsoft and also announced that he was stepping down from his position with the board of Berkshire Hathaway, run by his friend Warren Buffet. "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 told the WSJ.
"A committee of the Board reviewed the concern, aided by an outside law firm to conduct a thorough investigation. Throughout the investigation, Microsoft provided extensive support to the employee who raised the concern."
However, Gates was still re-elected to Microsoft's board at the annual shareholder meeting, the outlet report. He resigned before the investigation could be completed and at that time said that he was doing so because he wanted to focus on his philanthropic activities.
The Other side of Gates
A spokesperson of Gates told WSJ that the billion's decision to leave Microsoft didn't have anything to do with the affair. "There was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably," the spokesperson said adding that had "expressed an interest in spending more time on his philanthropy starting several years earlier.'
Microsoft came under fire in April 2019 after Quartz reported on an email chain within the company where female employees shared stories of sexual harassment and discrimination. After the report, Chief Executive Satya Nadella announced that the company would change its process for handling employee complaints of harassment and discrimination.
Nadella and other top executives were aware of the female employee's allegations about having a "sexual relationship" with Gates, according to the WSJ. Gates continues to serve as a technical adviser to Nadella.
Interestingly, the New York Times also came up with another bombshell report on Sunday detailing how Gates asked two women who worked at Microsoft and his philanthropic foundation out on dates while still married to Melinda. The two incidents and other more recent ones at times created an uncomfortable workplace environment, with Gates' personal life becoming gossip fodder among employees, six current and former staffers told the outlet.
It's unclear how much Melinda knew about her husband's behavior. The couple announced earlier this month that they were ending their 27-year marriage saying, "We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives." In a divorce petition, Melinda said their marriage was "irretrievably broken."