SEATTLE – Bill Gates has left the board of directors of Microsoft, the company he co-founded, to “dedicate more time to his philanthropic priorities including global health, development, education, and his increasing engagement in tackling climate change,” the Redmond company said Friday afternoon.
The announcement caught many by surprise, coming after stock markets closed and amid the global COVID-19 pandemic and the declaration of a national emergency.
Gates, in a post on Microsoft-owned LinkedIn, said he has also left the board of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet’s industrial conglomerate.
“The leadership at the Berkshire companies and Microsoft has never been stronger, so the time is right to take this step,” Gates wrote.
Gates, 64, remains a technology adviser to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and a major owner with a 1.3% stake in the company he co-founded with the late Paul Allen some 45 years ago. His leaving the board “in no way means stepping away from the company,” Gates said. “Microsoft will always be an important part of my life’s work and I will continue to be engaged with Satya and the technical leadership to help shape the vision and achieve the company’s ambitious goals.”
Gates is currently the world’s second-wealthiest person on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, behind Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.