San Francisco, May 17 : Some of the Microsoft board members last year wanted Bill Gates to step down amid an internal investigation into his alleged affair with an employee, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Gates’ resignation came before the investigation was completed and before the full board could make a formal decision on the matter, the report said.
Gates stepped down from Microsoft’s board March 13 last year, just three months after he had been re-elected to his seat. He also quit his board seat at Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway the same day. At that time Gates had said he wanted to focus on his philanthropy.
It isn’t clear whether the woman had accused Gates of any misconduct in her letter.
“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 Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement to the publication.
“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 spokesperson added.
During the investigation, several board members believed that Gates needed to step down. He resigned before the probe was completed, WSJ said citing a a person familiar with the matter.
Gates, who had recently announced his divorce from his wife, Melinda, acknowledged the affair, but argued that the relationship ended “amicably.”
“There was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably,” a spokeswoman for Gates said in a statement. “His decision to transition off the board was in no way related to this matter. In fact, he had expressed an interest in spending more time on his philanthropy starting several years earlier.”
The Journal’s report of Gates’ alleged sexual relationship came the same day The New York Times revealed that the Microsoft founder “pursued” several women throughout his marriage with Melinda.
In 2006, Gates attended a presentation led by a female Microsoft employee. The report alleged that Gates, who at the time was the company’s chairman, emailed the woman asking her out to dinner immediately after the meeting ended, two people familiar with the matter told The Times.
“If this makes you uncomfortable, pretend it never happened,” Gates allegedly wrote in the email.
Nearly two years later, Gates asked out another woman who worked for the Gates Foundation, saying: “I want to see you. Will you have dinner with me?”
The woman said she felt uncomfortable with the invitation and laughed to avoid responding to Gates.