Bill Gates, the co-founder and former CEO of Microsoft, on Friday, announced that he has decided to step down from the company’s board of directors and Berkshire Hathaway to focus more on philanthropy.
He, however, will continue to serve as a technology adviser to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and other company leaders.
For those unaware, Gates runs one of the world’s largest charities, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), with his wife Melinda. Launched in 2000, the primary goals of the foundation are, globally, to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty, and, in the U.S., to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology.
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Gates, who had started Microsoft in 1975 with Paul Allen served as the company’s CEO until 2000. He left his full-time job at Microsoft in 2008 and served as chairman of the board until 2014.
Talking about his decision, Gates wrote in a LinkedIn post that he is stepping down in order “to dedicate more time to philanthropic priorities including global health and development, education, and my increasing engagement in tackling climate change.”
On serving the Berkshire board, he said that it “has been one of the greatest honors of my career. Warren and I were the best of friends long before I joined and will be long after. I look forward to our continued partnership as co-trustees of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and co-founders of The Giving Pledge.”
Speaking of Microsoft, Gates stressed that “stepping down from the board in no way means stepping away from the company. Microsoft will always be an important part of my life’s work and I will continue to be engaged with Satya and the technical leadership to help shape the vision and achieve the company’s ambitious goals. I feel more optimistic than ever about the progress the company is making and how it can continue to benefit the world.”
Nadella who had requested Gates to take up the role of a “technology advisor” in 2014 said in a statement, “It’s been a tremendous honor and privilege to have worked with and learned from Bill over the years. 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.”
Nadella said Microsoft would continue to benefit from Gates’s leadership and vision. “Microsoft will continue to benefit from Bill’s ongoing technical passion and advice to drive our products and services forward. I am grateful for Bill’s friendship and look forward to continuing to work alongside him to realize our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more,” he added.
As Gates announced his departure, Berkshire in a regulatory filing on Friday announced that Kenneth Chenault, former CEO of American Express Co., will be joining the company’s board. Chenault in turn stepped down from the board of Facebook Inc.
He said that he was stepping down from Facebook’s board “because I have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work more closely with my friend Warren Buffett, the Berkshire Hathaway board and the management team.”
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