Enlarge /. U.S. founder Microsoft, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, poses for a picture on October 9, 2019 in Lyon, central France, during the Global Fund's funding conference to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
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Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates left Microsoft's board of directors just over 20 years after he stepped down as Microsoft CEO and six years after he stepped down as chairman of the board. The 64-year-old Gates is leaving the board to spend more time on philanthropic endeavors.
"I made the decision to resign from both public bodies I serve – Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway – to spend more time on philanthropic priorities such as global health and development, education, and my increasing commitment to fighting climate change." Gates announced the decision in a post on LinkedIn. "Leadership at Berkshire and Microsoft has never been so strong, so now is the time to take that step."
Gates founded Microsoft with Paul Allen in 1975 and their first product was Altair BASIC. The company's breakout product was Windows, which became the world's most widely used desktop operating system. Gates steered the company through a period of massive growth, but also set the table for his successor Steve Ballmer to deal with antitrust issues. Microsoft was classified by both the U.S. and European regulators in the 2000s as an abuse of its dominant position in both web browsers and operating systems, resulting in fines and regulatory approvals.
In 2000, with $ 5 billion of his personal wealth, Gates founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has become one of the largest philanthropic companies in the world.
“On behalf of our shareholders and the board of directors, I would like to express my deep gratitude to Bill for all his contributions to Microsoft. As a board member, he asked us to think big and then think bigger. It leaves a lasting legacy of curiosity and insight that inspires all of us, ”said John W. Thompson, independent CEO of Microsoft.