Well, it isn’t easy to say so let’s just get right to it. Bill Gates and Melinda Gates are getting a divorce. The couple announced the news on Monday and the billionaires are choosing to separate after 27 years. What does it mean for their fortune? Their futures? All the land they own? Their foundation? There are so many questions around what it means for a couple who’ve been a part of so many initiatives, both charitable and otherwise over the years.
Bill Gates and Melinda Gates released simultaneous tweets from their respective Twitter accounts on Monday that broke the bad news about their split. From the messaging it appears at least (outwardly) amicable though as with these things there is likely much behind the private veil. Here’s what Bill Gates had to say in what acted as something of a press released.
Bill Gates says that he and Melinda will be splitting and makes reference also to their three children, Jennifer, Rory, and Phoebe. He also says that their charitable group, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will maintain operations and they will actually continue working together on its initiatives. In this way, it appears they have the same visioning around helping others even if they will no longer be doing so as husband and wife.
The couple was in their 27th year of marriage after tying the knot back in 1994. They met while Bill Gates was running Microsoft and Melinda was a product manager. They’ve become synonymous together in a way that doesn’t often happen with those whose fortunes are amassed through the tech industry. Part of that was based on charitable giving and their focus on that in subsequent years.
Bill Gates and Melinda rank among the richest people in the world with a fortune estimated roughly in the $130 billion range. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was founded more than 20 years ago in 2000 and is reported to be the world’s largest charity. It has reported assets of $46.8 billion dollars with poverty reduction as its primary focus. But that’s an oversimplification of their mission with projects that include water rights initiatives, infectious disease control, nutrition, and health care among many other things.
But charitable giving isn’t solely where the couples’ assets lie. It’s been recently reported that Cascade Investment, a firm controlled by Bill Gates is currently one of the largest landowners in the United States with 242,000 acres at a rough value of close to $700 million. There is going to be more than a few meeting about how these assets are divided up when it’s all said done.
Whether this news momentarily halts the plans for Bill Gates to block out the sun remains to be seen. There are likely quite a few i’s to dot and t’s to cross with this separation. The fortune the two have amassed and nearly unparalleled and with it comes more than a few questions. But it is good news that they seem committed to carrying through with their charitable work which has become almost part of their identity at this point.