Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates quits board over investigation of 'romantic relationship' with employee

Bill Gates “pursued” several women in his office long after he wed now-estranged wife Melinda in 1994.

In one instance, following a presentation by a female Microsoft employee in 2006, Gates asked her out to dinner, the New York Times said. "If this makes you uncomfortable, pretend it never happened," Gates emailed the employee. A few years later, another woman, who worked for the Gates’ philanthropic foundation, said that he asked her out during a work trip to New York.

Some of the employees say they didn’t see Gates’ behaviour as predatory, noting that he didn’t pressure the women to submit to his advances. It’s unclear how much Melinda knew about her husband’s office behaviour.

But Bill Gates’ past is surely catching up with him. According to a leading business journal, the Microsoft co-founder felt obliged to step down from the company board in 2020 because he was being investigated for a two-decade-old romantic relationship with a female Microsoft employee that was deemed inappropriate.

The romantic link surfaced after the female engineer alleged in a letter that she had a sexual relationship over years with Gates. The employee wrote to the company board during the ‘Me Too’ furore and allegedly asked that Gates' estranged wife should read her letter.

The revelations of Gates' extra-marital affair came on the heels of the unravelling of his marriage to Melinda. One of the world's richest couples with a fortune of $130 billion, they announced this month they were getting divorced, with Melinda saying the marriage is 'irretrievably broken' in divorce filings.

During the probe into the romantic link, some board members decided it was no longer suitable for Gates to sit as a director at the software company he started and led for decades. Gates resigned before the board’s investigation was complete and before the full board could take a formal decision in the matter. Later came the announcement that Gates has left the board to devote more time to philanthropy.

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