Microsoft board members decided Bill Gates should resign from its board in 2020 after starting an investigation into the co-founder’s prior sexual relationship with a female staffer that was deemed inappropriate, people familiar with the matter said.
Board members tasked with handling the matter hired a law firm to conduct an investigation in late 2019 after a Microsoft engineer alleged she previously had a sexual relationship with Gates, sources told the Wall Street Journal. Amid the investigation, some members of the board said it was no longer appropriate for Gates to sit as the director of the company he founded and led for several decades amid the #MeToo movement, the sources said. Gates resigned before the investigation concluded, another person familiar with the matter said.
“Microsoft received a concern in the latter half of 2019 that Bill Gates sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000,” a Microsoft spokesman told the outlet. “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 spokeswoman for Gates also said that “there was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably,” adding that his “decision to transition off the board was in no way related to this matter. In fact, he had expressed an interest in spending more time on his philanthropy starting several years earlier.”
Gates resigned from the Microsoft board on March 13, 2020, just three months after he had been reelected to his post. In a press release filed with regulators, Gates said he would continue to serve as technical adviser to Chief Executive Satya Nadella. On the same day, Gates also left his board post at Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate run by his friend Warren Buffett.
On May 3, Bill and Melinda Gates announced they would end their marriage “after a great deal of thought and a lot of work on [their] relationship.”
Other sources have recently come out alleging the recent divorce was prompted by Melinda Gates’s dissatisfaction with the Microsoft founder over his reported dealings with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Bridgitt Arnold, a spokeswoman for Bill Gates, said in a statement that the billionaire met with Epstein for philanthropic reasons and later regretted the meeting, saying it was “an error in judgment to do so.”
The Washington Examiner reached out to Microsoft for comment but did not immediately receive a response.