Bill and Melinda Gates said on Monday they had decided to divorce after 27 years of marriage, but would continue to work together at their namesake philanthropic foundation, in an announcement that shocked the world of philanthropy.
Bill, the billionaire founder of Microsoft, and Melinda, an author and businesswoman, announced their decision to separate in an identical statement posted on their individual Twitter accounts.
“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,” the statement read. “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.”
The couple, who met at Microsoft and married in Hawaii in 1994, asked for privacy.
A joint petition for dissolution of marriage filed by the couple in King County Superior Court in Seattle stated: “The marriage is irretrievably broken.”
The couple asked the court to approve their agreement on division of assets, but did not disclose details, according to Reuters news agency.
Bill Gates, 65, founded Microsoft in 1975 with Paul Allen.
His net worth stands at an estimated $130.5bn, according to Forbes, and he has donated $35.8bn worth of Microsoft stock to the couple’s foundation.
He announced last year he would be stepping down from Microsoft’s board to focus full-time on his work as the foundation’s co-chair.
Melinda Gates, 56, serves as the foundation’s co-chair and is the founder of Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company that focuses on advancing the interests of American women and families.
Launched in 2000, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private philanthropic foundation in the United States and one of the biggest in the world, with net assets of $43.3 billion at the end of in 2019, according to its website.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES