Bill and Melinda Gates are calling it quits.
In a statement posted to Twitter, the leaders of the world’s largest private philanthropic organization announced that they plan to divorce after 27 years of marriage. While the news is shocking, it should not have any real impact on shares of Microsoft (MSFT), which Bill Gates co-founded with the late Paul Allen in 1975.
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” the two said on Twitter. “Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives. We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”
Bill Gates is 65. Melinda French Gates is 56. They married in 1994.
Bill Gates has largely stepped away from the software company he helped build. Gates completed his tenure as CEO in 2000, ended his day-to-day role in June 2008, stepped down as chairman in February 2014, and gave up his seat on the Microsoft board last year.
According to Forbes, Gates is the world’s fourth wealthiest person, with a fortune worth $124 billion. Forbes notes that Gates has just over 1% of Microsoft’s outstanding shares, and has donated $35.8 billion of Microsoft stock to the foundation.
Asked to comment, a Microsoft spokesman said questions should be directed to Gates Ventures, Bill Gates’ personal office.
In response to a query to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a spokesperson said that Bill and Melinda will remain co-chairs and trustees. “No changes to their roles or the organization are planned. They will continue to work together to shape and approve foundation strategies, advocate for the foundation’s issues, and set the organization’s overall direction.”
The Gates Foundation has 1,602 employees, according to its website. The foundation has an endowment of $49.8 billion, and has granted payments through the end of 2019 of $54.8 billion.
Write to Eric J. Savitz at [email protected]