It’s going to be a long summer for Bill Gates. A Wall Street Journal report reveals that Microsoft board members wanted him to step down from his seat after an internal investigation last year revealed he had a relationship with a female engineer at the company — while he was married. This follows news from earlier this month that the Microsoft co-founder and his wife of 27 years, Melinda Gates, were divorcing.
The investigation was conducted in 2019 by the board, along with an outside legal firm, after the female staffer documented her affair with Gates in a letter. The woman alleged she had a relationship with him in 2000 when Gates was then the CEO of Microsoft.
“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,” a Microsoft spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal.
“There was an affair almost 20 years ago, which ended amicably,” Gates’s spokesperson told The Journal.
Did the board ask Gates to step down?
The timing is interesting here as Gates resigned from the Microsoft board in March of 2020 stating that he wanted to focus more on his philanthropic work as his main reason for exiting.
Board members weren’t the only ones aware of the affair between Gates and the engineer. Senior executives including current CEO Satya Nadella also knew the staffer had made allegations against Gates. In 2019 the company said they would be modifying their processes for employee complaints about sexual harassment.
The engineer Gates allegedly had the affair with asked the board to make changes to her job and she wanted Melinda Gates to read the letter, but it is not clear if that ever happened.
A history of bad behavior
According to The New York Times, it is now coming to light that Gates has a history of inappropriate behavior with women at both Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In addition to those occurrences, Gates’s relationship with accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein is not working in his favor.
That relationship was reportedly part of the impetus for the unraveling of Bill and Melinda Gates’ marriage as she did not want her husband associated with the nefarious Epstein.
The Daily Beast published a story titled “Jeffrey Epstein Gave Bill Gates Advice on How to End ‘Toxic’ Marriage, Sources Say.” Representatives for Gates claimed this was an inaccurate characterization.