Bill Gates and Melinda Gates are going their separate ways. In a joint statement shared to social media on Monday, May 3, the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist announced their decision to split after nearly three decades as husband and wife.
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” Bill and Melinda’s message read. “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.”
Bill and Melinda are parents to daughter Jennifer Gates, 24; son Rory Gates, 21; and daughter Phoebe Gates, 18.
As for the future of their eponymous foundation, which launched in 2000, Bill and Melinda said their efforts will not be impacted by the separation.
The statement explained, “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 the next phase of our lives.”
For now, the couple has requested “space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”
Jennifer, who is an accomplished equestrian and medical student, broke her silence on her parents’ divorce via Instagram.
“Hi friends,” she wrote, “By now, many of you have heard the news that my parents are separating. It’s been a challenging stretch of time for our whole family. I’m still learning how to best support my own process and emotions as well as family members at this time, and am grateful for the space to do so.”
She continued, “I won’t personally comment further on anything around the separation, but please know that your kind words and support mean the world to me.”
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is described as the world’s biggest private charitable foundation, and according to its website, has spent $53.8 billion on campaigns related to public health and global development.
In March 2020, Bill announced his decision to step down from the boards of Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway to “dedicate more time to philanthropic priorities including global health and development, education, and my increasing engagement in tackling climate change.” Over the past year, his and Melinda’s foundation pledged a total of $1.75 billion to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pair met in 1987 when Melinda began working as a product manager at Microsoft. They wed in Hawaii in 1994, and Bill would go on to describe Melinda as his better half.
“In the case of Melinda, it is a truly equal partner,” he described in the 2019 Netflix series Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates, per CNBC. “She’s a lot like me in that she is optimistic and she is interested in science. She is better with people than I am. She’s a tiny bit less hard core about knowing, you know, immunology, than I am.”