On Friday, Microsoft announced that co-founder Bill Gates is stepping down from his position on the company’s Board of Directors. The second-richest man in the world also declared his resignation from the board of Berkshire Hathaway.
According to Gates, his reason for stepping down is so that he can devote more time to more “philanthropic priorities” including global health, education, and climate change.
He went further to say that “the leadership at the Berkshire companies and Microsoft has never been stronger, so the time is right to take this step.”
Bill Gates and the growth of Microsoft
The company had its first major breakthrough in 1980 when it signed an agreement with IBM to build an operating system. The system is now known as MS-DOS. In 1986, Microsoft went public. In a year, Bill Gates, age 31 at the time, became the youngest self-made billionaire.
Leadership in Microsoft
Bill Gates was the CEO of Microsoft until 2000 when Steven Ballmer took over. Satya Nadella, the current CEO, took over the role in 2014.
Gates had been a director of the Microsoft board until 2014 but stepped down in 2008 in order to dedicate more of his time to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He has also served on Berkshire’s board since 2014.
Microsoft now has a market capitalization of $1.21 trillion making it one of the highest valued companies in the world. According to FactSet, Bill Gates is among the top shareholders in Microsoft, owning 1.36% on their shares. Bill Gates is listed by Forbes as the world’s second-richest man after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and is worth $103.6bn (£84.4bn).
Bill Gates philanthropic Interests
In 2018, Bill and Melinda Gates were named the most generous philanthropists of the year by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, as a result of giving $4.8bn to their foundation the previous year.
Bill Gates, at 65, now decides to leave the Microsoft and Berkshire’s board to focus on his philanthropic interests.
Announcing this latest move, Bill Gates said that Microsoft would always be an important part of his life’s work. He will also have continued engagement with its leadership activities.
But he also said: “I am looking forward to this next phase. It will serve as an opportunity to maintain the friendships and partnerships that have meant the most to me. To also continue contributing to two companies I am incredibly proud. As well as, to effectively prioritize my commitment to addressing some of the world’s toughest challenges.”
Featured image courtesy of OnInnovation / Flickr