- In 2019, the Microsoft board opened an investigation into a relationship between Bill Gates and a staffer, the Wall Street Journal reported.
- The probe was opened after the employee alleged she had a sexual relationship with Gates.
- A Gates spokesperson told The Journal “there was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably.”
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Microsoft board members opened an investigation into Bill Gates in late 2019 after a female employee said she had a sexual relationship with him that spanned years, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
The board hired a law firm to conduct the investigation after the staffer came forward with the allegation, and in 2020 decided that Gates should step down from the board of directors. When Gates stepped down in March of 2020, he said it was to focus on “philanthropic priorities.”
In a statement provided to The Journal, a Microsoft spokesperson said: “Microsoft received a concern in the latter half of 2019 that Bill Gates sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000.”
“A committee of the Board reviewed the concern, aided by an outside law firm to conduct a thorough investigation. Throughout the investigation, Microsoft provided extensive support to the employee who raised the concern,” the statement continued.
According to The Journal, a spokesperson for Gates said his decision to step down from the board was unrelated to the investigation into the relationship, but said “there was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably.”
The Journal’s report came the same day as a report from The New York Times that alleged Gates had pursued female employees at Microsoft and at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Times report also said Gates had been dismissive towards his wife, Melinda French Gates, during meetings at Microsoft.
The high-profile couple, which met while French Gates was a Microsoft employee, announced earlier this month they were divorcing after 27 years of marriage. They said they would continue to work together at their charitable foundation.