Bill Gates is 64 years old, and for over 40 years, he has been at the helm of software innovation in the United States. As CEO and then chairman of software giant Microsoft, he shaped the nature of home computers and personal electronics from IBM to Google Home. (For good or ill, that’s for history to decide).
In 2006, Gates left his CEO position at Microsoft to give himself more time to dedicate to his passion; philanthropy. In 2014, he stepped down from the chairman position on his company’s board for the same reason. Via his two charities, the William H. Gates Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he’s supported global health and education initiatives to the tune of billions of dollars.
Now, in the middle of what may be the most economically impactful health crisis in human history, Gates has stepped down entirely from Microsoft’s board. Effective Friday, March 13th, he’s relinquished all control on both Microsoft and the other company on whose board he served, Berkshire Hathaway.
“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,” said Gates in a statement on LinkedIn.
Gates has been open for a long time about his feelings that the role of wealth is to serve the public good. He and his wife have made multiple open pledges to pour most of their shared fortune into altruistic endeavors.
Gates will continue, as he has done for the past twenty years, to serve Microsoft as Technology Advisor, but it isn’t a day-to-day role.
“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,” said Satya Nadella, the current CEO, in Microsoft’s statement.