The canceling of Bill Gates

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News about billionaire Bill Gates is trending this week after new details seem to emerge daily about his workplace improprieties and failed marriage.

Mr. Gates, 65, and his wife Melinda French Gates, 56, announced earlier this month on May 3, 2021, that they were ending their marriage after 27 years. In a joint statement posted on Twitter, the couple said, “We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.” In a divorce petition, Ms. French Gates said their marriage was “irretrievably broken.”

We have a rundown of the details of the “cancelling” of Bill Gates: 

Jeffrey Epstein

Sources told People Magazine that anything involving Epstein was a “major trauma” for Melinda. “She was totally opposed to what she considered shady dealings and some other issues he wanted to pursue in the business area,” the source says. “She was not afraid to speak up about it either.”

A spokeswoman for Mr. Gates said in 2019 that he had met with Epstein for philanthropic reasons and regretted doing so. Epstein died in jail in August 2019 awaiting trial on federal charges related to sex trafficking. According to the Daily Beast, the billionaire met Epstein dozens of times starting in 2011 and continuing through to 2014 mostly at the financier’s Manhattan home, a substantially higher number than has been previously reported.

A former employee told The Daily Beast that Epstein was a topic of conversation among staff even in 2017, three years after the men’s friendship reportedly fizzled, because of concerns that Gates’ previous ties to Epstein could harm his reputation. “When you work at the foundation, your whole job in life is to protect and preserve and build up the reputation of Bill and Melinda Gates,” the person said. “I think that’s why it still came up.”

Michael Larson

Michael Larson has managed Bill Gates’ fortune for decades, worth nearly $130 billion, including Gates’ secretive investment company, Cascade Investment, and he manages Gates’ personal wealth as well as his charitable foundation.

Larson, 61, has worked for Gates through Cascade since 1994. He is the chief investment officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gates’ personal investment portfolio.

A New York Times report on Sunday said Larson had been accused of sexual harassment in 2017. Apparently the woman who accused him managed a bike shop partially owned by Rally Capital, a firm that Cascade had invested in.

The woman settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money and she signed an NDA in 2018. French Gates hired a law firm to investigate the woman’s claims and the culture at Cascade, and Larson was placed on leave. The outcome of the investigation was not clear, but Larson kept his job. 



Workplace Allegations

Gates was known for making clumsy approaches to women in and out of the office. His behavior fueled widespread chatter among employees about his personal life. 

A class action lawsuit filed in March 2018 alleged 238 cases of sexual harassment or discrimination between 2010 and 2016 were not taken seriously enough at Microsoft. While allegations go back many years, in 2019 Quartz reported about an email chain within Microsoft where women shared stories of sexual harassment and discrimination, according to more than 90 pages of emails.

Until the story was picked up by the media, HR did absolutely nothing to help these women, even witnessing the harassment themselves and shrugging it off.

After the harassment was brought to the attention of Microsoft’s senior leadership team in April 2019, Microsoft said it would change its process for handling employee complaints of harassment and discrimination.

The company also said at the time it would add additional training and boost the number of human resources staff who address complaints, among other changes. The board hired a law firm to conduct an investigation in late 2019 after a Microsoft engineer alleged in a letter that she had a sexual relationship with Mr. Gates beginning in 2000. 

Unnamed sources told The Wall Street Journal that the woman in question was an engineer who worked at the company. She was said to have alleged in the letter that she had an affair with Gates for years. The company confirmed the investigation, while a Gates representative acknowledged the affair.

Microsoft Corp. board members decided that Bill Gates needed to step down from its board in 2020 as they pursued the investigation. Gates resigned March 13, 2020, three months after he had been re-elected to his seat, before the board’s investigation was completed and before the full board could make a formal decision on the matter.

Dividing the Assets

The May 3 divorce filing says the couple had agreed to a separation contract to divide their assets, a fortune estimated at $130 billion by Forbes. The holdings include an estimated 242,000 acres of farmland from Louisiana to Arizona purchased in 2017 for $500 million, the Four Seasons hotel chain he purchased in 2007 for $3.8 billion, $4.7 billion for Signature Aviation PLC, the largest operator of private jet airports, 3.9% of Waste Management Inc., and ⅓ of Republic Services Inc., two of the largest waste collection companies in the country, a $43 million San Diego mansion, a $131 million mansion in Medina.

Washington, a $30.8 million scientific notebook by Leonardo da Vinci, known as the Codex Leicester, purchased in 1994, and an estimated $55 billion in Microsoft stock, among many many more investments. 

The Kids

Bill Gates has said that he plans to leave just $10 million to each of his kids Jennifer, 25, Rory, 21, and Phoebe, 18, leaving the rest to charity and claimed Melinda totally agreed. It appears that Melinda Gates might be attempting to legally change that through her divorce by naming top trust and estate lawyers as her representatives in her divorce filing, along with the customary matrimonial legal eagles.

High-profile divorce attorneys Harriet Newman Cohen and Martha Cohen Stine tell Page Six “now that Melinda has control, maybe she wanted to leave more to her children than $10 million each. Maybe she didn’t agree.” and added that the fraction of funds to be left to the kids is “tantamount to disinheriting the children.”

The Gates Foundation

The Gates have said they would give away most of their wealth and have donated more than $36 billion to the Gates Foundation over the years. The couple said they planned to remain co-chairs at the foundation and jointly lead it after their divorce.

In 2019 the foundation funded grantees in 48 states and the District of Columbia. Internationally, the foundation funded work in 135 countries.

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