In a dramatic turn of events on Monday, tech billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates and his wife Melinda said they are divorcing after 34 years as a couple. The couple said in a joint statement that they are parting ways as the marriage is 'irretrievably broken.'
"After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage ... We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in the next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life," said the joint statement, which was shared individually through Twitter.
Separating After 34 Years
Bill Gates is 65 while Melinda is 56. The couple has three adult children -- Jennifer, 25, Rory, 21, and Phoebe, 19. Bill and Melinda have been living together as a couple for 34 years while they were married 27 years ago. Bill and Melinda met the first time when she joined Microsoft as a product manager in 1987.
Melinda, who was raised in Dallas, studied computer science and economics at Duke University. She founded Pivotal Ventures, an investment company focused on women, in 2015. In 2019, she published a book titled "The Moment of Lift".
Shaped the World of Philanthropy
The power couple who shaped the world of philanthropy in the recent years by launching Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, said they have reached an agreement on how to divide their assets. However, details of the agreement were not revealed. The couple are worth over a $100 billion fortune, even as Gates remained the richest person on the planet for long.
The joint divorce petition was filed in King County Superior Court in Seattle. According to media reports, it was Melinda who filed for divorce. The couple stated in the divorce filing that they have no minor children, sparking speculation of they were waiting for the youngest child to turn 18.
In a major announcement, however, the couple said their work at the Foundation will continue unchanged and their roles will also remain unaffected by the divorce. The couple has donated more than $36 billion of their wealth to the Foundation over the years.
Work at Foundation to Continue
According to Reuters, The Gates Foundation, probably the richest philanthropic organization in the world, provides funds to for projects in public health, education and climate around the world. It also supports development of coronavirus vaccines, diagnostic tests and medical treatments.
"No changes to their roles or the organization are planned. 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," the Foundation said.