Multibillionaire Microsoft Corp. Founder Bill Gates announced Friday (March 13) that he’s stepping down from the boards of Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway to focus on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“I have made the decision to step down from both of the public boards on which I serve – Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway – to dedicate more time to philanthropic priorities, including global health and development, education and my increasing engagement in tackling climate change,” Gates said in a statement he posted on LinkedIn. “The leadership at the Berkshire companies and Microsoft has never been stronger, so the time is right to take this step.
“Serving on the Berkshire board has been one of the greatest honors of my career,” Gates added, noting that he and Berkshire CEO (and fellow billionaire) Warren Buffett “were the best of friends long before I joined and will be long after. I look forward to our continued partnership as co-trustees of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and co-founders of The Giving Pledge,” Gates’ and Buffett’s program in which billionaires pledge to give most of their fortunes to charity.
As for Microsoft, Gates said that “stepping down from the board in no way means stepping away from the company. Microsoft will always be an important part of my life’s work, and I will continue to be engaged with [CEO Satya Nadella] and the technical leadership to help shape the vision and achieve the company’s ambitious goals. I feel more optimistic than ever about the progress the company is making and how it can continue to benefit the world.”
Nadella said in a statement that “it’s been a tremendous honor and privilege to have worked with and learned from Bill over the years. Bill founded our company with a belief in the democratizing force of software and a passion to solve society’s most pressing challenges. And Microsoft and the world are better for it.”
Gates and fellow Microsoft pioneer Paul Allen co-founded the company in 1975, when Gates was just 19. However, Gates left the tech company’s day-to-day operations in 2008 to focus on his charity work. He had previously departed as Microsoft’s board chair in 2014 after giving up the CEO post in 2000.
The 64-year-old is one of the world’s richest people. He regularly comes in either first place on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index or second place behind Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, depending on Bloomberg’s daily calculations. As of Friday (March 13), the Index listed Gates as No. 2 on the list, with a $102 billion net worth. That trailed only Bezos’ $110 billion fortune.