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13 Mar, 2020 21:35

End of an era? Bill Gates steps down from Microsoft board

End of an era? Bill Gates steps down from Microsoft board

Microsoft co-founder and tech icon Bill Gates has resigned from the company’s board of directors, stating he will dedicate more of his energies to philanthropy, but will continue to advise CEO Satya Nadella.

The firm announced the move on Friday afternoon, noting that Gates would now spend more time on “his philanthropic priorities including global health, development, education,” as well as climate change.

“It’s been a tremendous honor and privilege to have worked with and learned from Bill over the years,” company CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement. “Bill founded our company with a belief in the democratizing force of software and a passion to solve society’s most pressing challenges. And Microsoft and the world are better for it.”

Gates also declared in a LinkedIn post on Friday that he would no longer serve on the board of  international conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway – which owns companies ranging from GEICO insurance to the Dairy Queen ice cream franchise – co-founded by billionaire investor Warren Buffet.

“Serving on the Berkshire board has been one of the greatest honors of my career,” Gates wrote. “Warren and I were the best of friends long before I joined and will be long after.”

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Having stepped away from Microsoft’s day-to-day operations in 2008 and resigned as the company’s chairman of the board in 2014, Gates has gradually removed himself from an active role in the tech giant, and has lately been a more frequent sight at various global conferences, speaking on issues such as climate change, poverty and sustainable development, among others. While he remains one of Microsoft's top shareholders – owning 1.36 percent of the company, according to FactSet – he has slowly sold off shares in recent years.

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Next to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Gates is still the second-richest man in the world, with a net worth of some $112 billion as of February 2020, according to Forbes. The news of his resignation from the board, if not entirely unexpected, came at a time when the world’s wealthy – Gates included – have seen their fortunes plummet due to the coronavirus-instigated panic on the markets. A combined $78 billion in wealth was wiped out on Thursday alone, as US market indices slumped across the board.

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