A former Microsoft employee has given insight into Bill Gates’ alleged “unrelenting” and “condescending”
A former Microsoft employee has spilt on Bill Gates’ alleged “unrelenting” behaviour over the years at the company.
The 65-year-old has been under increased scrutiny since announcing last month he and his wife Melina Gates would be divorcing after 27 years of marriage.
“We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives,” the couple said, in a joint statement, on May 4.
Divorcing after 27 years and splitting up more than a billion dollars in assets was always going to be difficult, but more factors have come to light in recent weeks that could make things even messier.
Stories have emerged regarding Gates’ allegedly awkward behaviour with female employees, weekend retreats with ex-girlfriends and a little-known connection to Jeffrey Epstein, bringing his squeaky clean image of a technology enthusiast and philanthropist into question.
A spokeswoman for Gates has continued to strongly deny any wrongdoing on his behalf.
Now, a report from Vanity Fair has provided more insight into the Microsoft founder’s life, with a former employee spilling details on what he was like to work with.
For years there have been rumours about Gates being difficult to work with, with one former employee telling the publication that stories about him have been suppressed by the liberal use of nondisclosure agreements.
“For such a long time you were told, ‘You have an NDA. You can’t talk,’” said the source, who had signed one of these agreements.
They said the increased scrutiny around Gates has prompted them to speak out, branding him “unrelenting” and “condescending”.
“He would ask you a question, and when you answered, he’d look at you and go, ‘That is NOT the right answer;’” the person said.
Despite news of the divorce and ongoing rumours about Gate’s conduct, there has reportedly been little mention of it within Microsoft itself.
One current employee told Vanity Fair there had been no internal team meetings or company-wide email addressing the subject.
They said news of the split had very little impact on the day-to-day running of the company, with Gates stepping down from his active role in running the company in 2008.
Alleged awkward interactions with female employees
The latest news about Gate’s alleged behaviour follows weeks of allegations against the billionaire.
Last month,The New York Timespublished claims that in 2006, 12 years into his marriage to Melinda, Gates attended a presentation by a female Microsoft employee and immediately invited the woman out to dinner.
“If this makes you uncomfortable, pretend it never happened,” Gates, who was at the time the chairman of Microsoft, wrote in an email, according to a person who read it to The New York Times. The female employee ignored the email.
A year or two later, Gates was in New York City on behalf of his and Melinda’s foundation, and allegedly made another woman uncomfortable at a cocktail party.
“I want to see you. Will you have dinner with me?” Gates said, according to the woman, who was an employee of the foundation.
The woman laughed, and avoided responding.
According to six of Gates’s current and former employees, the 65-year-old tech boss was known for approaching women clumsily and uncomfortably.
The same group of six said they would not define Gates’s behaviour as “predatory” but all of them disapproved.
A separate investigation by The Wall Street Journal reported Microsoft board members decided it best that Gates step down from its board in 2020 after an internal investigation found a prior romantic relationship with one of the company’s engineers was “inappropriate”.
The female Microsoft engineer wrote a letter to the board in late 2019, alleging she and Gates had been in a sexual relationship for years.
“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 spokesman told The Wall Street Journal.
“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.”
Gates’ spokeswoman said the affair had “ended amicably” and his decision to step down from Microsoft’s board in March 2020 was not linked to the investigation and instead linked to him wanting to focus more on his philanthropic work.
A former employee of the couple’s charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, claimed the Microsoft founder continued his relationship with Epstein despite Melinda telling her husband she was uncomfortable with the man.
Epstein died in jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial for multiple sex trafficking charges.
In 2019, The New York Times reported that Gates had met with Epstein on multiple occasions and once stayed late into the night at his Manhattan townhouse.
It is understood Melinda held a number of calls in October 2019 following The New York Times report.
That same year, Bridgitt Arnold, a spokesperson for Gates, said he “regrets” his meetings with
Epstein, which were reportedly to discuss philanthropy.
“Bill Gates regrets ever meeting with Epstein and recognises it was an error in judgment to do so,” Arnold said at the time.