In yet another bit of breaking news that nobody saw coming, philanthropist and Microsoft mogul Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have announced their separation after 27 years of marriage.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Gates said that he and Melinda ‘no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in the next phase of our lives’, but that they will continue to work together for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which works to fight poverty, disease and inequity around the world.
The pair met in 1987 while Melinda was a product manager at Microsoft. Seated together at a business dinner in New York City, Bill was instantly taken with ‘funny and high energy’ Melinda – though it wasn’t quite love at first sight for his new crush, as Gates described during his 2019 Netflix series ‘Inside Bill’s Brain’.
Not only did Melinda turn down Bill’s request to go dancing with him on the evening of their initial meeting, but she declined a further date invitation months later after he suggested during a chance encounter in a parking lot that they meet for a date ‘two weeks from Friday’.
According to Melinda, this invitation showed that Bill ‘wasn’t spontaneous enough’, leading the businessman to call her from his home an hour later, asking ‘Is this spontaneous enough for you?’.
This time, Melinda accepted his invitation and the rest was history.
In the years following, the couple welcomed three children – now the heirs to the Microsoft fortune.
Jennifer Katherine Gates
The couple’s eldest child and first of two daughters was born in 1996.
Jennifer Katherine Gates doesn’t look to be interested in pursuing a career in tech like her parents, instead deciding to pursue a career in medicine. Having been an undergrad at Stanford University, she is now a second-year student at the Icahn School Of Medicine, where she specializes in children’s growth and development.
Away from her studies, she’s also a big player in the world of professional showjumping! Not only was Jennifer named the US Equestrian Federation’s Champion back in 2017, but she is considered one of America’s top riders and even the founder and president of Evergate Stables, an internationally successful showjumping team.
Jennifer shares her love of the equestrian world with her fiance, Nayel Nassar, a fellow champion in the showjumping field! Having gotten engaged in January 2020, Jennifer currently resides with entrepreneur Nayel in New York City.
Rory John Gates
The Gates welcomed their son Rory John Gates in May 1999 – and that’s about all we really know about him for sure!
Rory likes to stay out of the spotlight and live a fairly private life, even to the extent that the Microsoft heir chooses to stay mostly off social media, though he occasionally appears in photos on his family members’ profiles. Melinda has previously described her son as a lover of puzzles (to an ‘obsessive’ extent, apparently!), a feminist and a curious, compassionate type.
So, will Rory follow in his father’s footsteps and take on a role at Microsoft one day? Little is known about his career goals or pursuits, though there have previously been rumours that the 21-year-old was studying at the University Of Chicago. According to the books his father recommends, Rory might already have high-level business literacy and an entrepreneur mindset.
Phoebe Adele Gates
The youngest member of the Gates family is 18-year-old Phoebe Adele Gates.
Having attended the prestigious Lakeside School (alongside her older siblings), the Gates’ youngest daughter is set to follow in Jennifer’s footsteps and head to Stanford University, though the subject that she’s set to study is unknown right now.
Phoebe, like Rory, is a little more low-key and enjoys a fairly private life – or as private a life as you can do when your private Instagram account has nearly 90,000 followers!