Bill Gates' longtime money manager shared nude photos of women, rated female colleagues on their looks and made racist and sexually provocative comments, several employees have claimed. At least 10 employees have alleged Michael Larson, 61, of creating a hostile work environment, according to a bombshell report published in the New York Times.
Interestingly, some of the employees also complained about Larson's behavior directly to Bill and Melinda. Larson works for Cascade Investment, which manages Bill Gates' and Melinda French Gates' fortune. Earlier this month, Bill and Melinda Gates announced that they are splitting after 27 years of marriage.
Terrorizing Female Employees
Larson, who has worked as Gates' money manager for nearly three decades through Cascade, made sexual and racist comments on a regular basis and was a bully, 10 former employees and others familiar with the firm told the NYT. The incidents of sexual misconduct are numerous and the report once again exposes the work culture under Gates.
In one of the many incidents, during a work Christmas party in the mid-2000s, Larson reportedly was sitting outdoors with a small group of male employees after dinner, while three female colleagues were standing around 20 feet away. "Which one of them do you wanna f***," Larson asked them.
In another incident, Larson allegedly asked a female employee, who was attending Weight Watchers, that if she would lose weight for him
Another female staffer at his firm accused Larson of asking her whether she would strip for a certain amount of money, according to sources, who spoke to the outlet.
In one instance, sources told the NYT that Larson made a racist comment to former employee Stacy Ybarra, who is Black. When she informed Larson that she had voted, Larson said in response: "But you live in the ghetto, and everybody knows that Black people don't vote," three sources described to The Times.
Besides, he created a hostile work environment by insulting women all the time. He would call them "stupid" and would call their work "garbage," sources told the outlet.
Almost No Action Taken
It isn't that Larson's conduct wasn't known to Bill and Melinda Gates. At least four employees complained directly to Bill Gates, while many complained to Melinda. In fact, Ybarra also took her complaint to Bill and Melinda, who later spoke to the employee as part of an investigation, people familiar with the matter told the outlet.
In January 2005, she quit Cascade, received a small payout and agreed to not speak about the firm in the future. Not only Ybarra, Cascade Investment made settlement payments to at least seven employees in exchange for their silence regarding Larson's conduct and their time at the company.
The bombshell revelations made by the NYT about Larson comes after the May 4 announcement that Bill and Melinda were divorcing. It has since then opened the floodgates to stories about Bill's affair, in 2000, with a Microsoft employee, his reckless lifestyle and how his association with convicted pedophile and sex offender Jeffery Epstein soured his relationship with Melinda. In fact, Melinda was also unhappy with the investigation into Larson in 2018 related to Ybarra which ended with the woman having to quit the organization with a paltry payoff.
Bill's relationship with Larson began in 1993, after his earlier financial manager, Andrew L. Evans, was sent to prison for bank fraud. Larson was hired the next year. After taking the job, Larson decided to go 'off the radar,' said Roger McNamee, a co-founder of Elevation Partners, a Silicon Valley firm that was an early investor in Facebook.
A former employee told The New York Times that the philosophy was: "We don't want Bill's name in the headlines." Larson's firm, incorporated in Washington state near the offices of both Bill and Melinda Gates's companies and Microsoft, grew to more than 100 people, all working to increase the wealth of both the Gateses personally, and their Foundation.
Larson, who is known to be a traditional investor, he invested their money in farmland, hotels, stocks, bonds, even a bowling alley. Larson played a pivotal role in changing Bill fortunes from multiplying his asset value from $10 billion to almost $130 billion.
So much so, that in September 2014, the Gateses even held a dinner for Larson at their Seattle mansion, nicknamed Xanadu 2.0, to celebrate Larson's 20 years of working with them.
Larson, on the other hand is yet to make any comments on the allegation. However, at the same time, the report once again raises questions about the Microsoft founder's work ethics and how he treated employees.