The millionaire, intimate of Microsoft’s founder, is the third charity administrator of the already ex-partner, who met with him shortly before announcing their divorce.
Millionaires need friends too. Even billionaires. Everyone is looking for a guide, a mentor and someone to support them in their projects. And in Bill Gates’ case, it is businessman and philanthropist Warren Buffett. The 65-year-old Microsoft founder is close to the 90-year-old president of Berkshire Hathaway, with whom he has shared confidants and millions for decades. But also ideas of solidarity. So much so that Buffett is the third director of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, because he was one of the first to opt for this new solidarity development. And he was also one of the first to know that after 27 years of marriage, the marriage was breaking up, as announced in early May.
Buffett met Bill and Melinda a few days before they announced their divorce. In addition to the gatherings they may have in private, the couple has an official gathering every year because Buffett is the third administrator of their charity. And it was a few days after that meeting that the Gates made their divorce public, something they didn’t leave to chance at all, according to The New York Times newspaper in a comprehensive report on the couple published this weekend. “ By waiting until after their annual meeting, they saved Warren from it, ” one of the foundation’s employees explained to the New York newspaper.
Buffett turns 91 next summer, and when he turned 90 last August, the Microsoft founder wanted to pay him a little tribute on his social networks by preparing a huge chocolate cake surrounded by Oreo cookies “in honor of his dietary preferences.” Something he accompanied a letter that began with this message, “Of all the things I’ve learned from Warren Buffet (and there have been many), the most important thing might be what friendship is all about. Here are the reasons why he is a person I admire and love ”.
The relationship between Gates and Buffett dates back to 1991, when they met, and has grown so strong that, as the one in Seattle revealed in that letter, he has two telephone numbers stored in speed dial numbers in his office: Melinda Gates’ and the Buffett himself. In fact, it was he who gave a certain configuration to the philanthropy of marriage as it is today. Your organization was founded more than 20 years ago. Melinda Gates took on more duties than her husband, who then and until 2008 devoted herself to Microsoft, although she remained unobtrusive. However, in 2006, Buffett decided to donate $ 31 billion to the foundation (which already had a fund of another 30,000). At the time, Buffett owned 44,000 million, and that endowment assumed 70% of his fortune. It donated an additional 15% more of it to four other foundations and has already announced its intention to give up up to 99% of it in solidarity.
To his credit, Bill Gates confirms that his friend – with a fortune estimated by Forbes at $ 90,320 million – has “an unshakeable sense of right and wrong” as well as “an incredible eye for talent”: “Buy great deals managed by brilliant people, and it gives them the autonomy to make their own decisions. ”In addition, he confirms that one of the lessons Buffett learned for him was when he told him that“ it was important to connect with people who are better are than yourself. “” The friends you have will let you go through life in a certain way. Make good friends, keep them for the rest of your life, but make them people you admire and love, “he said.” That’s the perfect description of what I think about Warren, “says Gates.
Ever since that act of transferring his fortune 15 years ago, Buffett has been associated with marriage and its creation, but always with a very discreet background, way behind Bill and Melinda. It was on that donation in 2006 that they signed to the New York Public Library – one of the most iconic buildings in the city – that Melinda Gates began following the actions they wanted to take, making a public speech for the first time. and explained that it would invest in micro-credit, agriculture and the fight against infectious diseases, and in equality for women.
She herself has explained that this moment was key to her development and, as several of her associates explain, she was trained there to do just that and accepted the leadership position she was placed in to give such a financial and social boost to the foundation. “She saw clearly that she had to use her voice in favor of women,” says a doctor who has worked with her since 2008. A voice that sometimes caused problems for the marriage. Melinda explained her disagreements with her husband in her biography because of the annual letter they both send, a kind of memorandum of their projects. ‘I thought we were killing each other. I thought it was the end of our marriage, ”he said of the 2012 letter. The 2013 letter was signed by himself and she provided a small text. ‘It got heated, we both got angry. It was a great test. It took us a while to fix it ”.
Other aspects of their relationship that could provide clues for their divorce were that they already had completely separate projects in their foundations (even with different names: Pivotal Ventures of hers, founded in 2015; Gates Ventures are, founded in 2018;) and several interests. Additionally, sources close to them confirm that their children’s greater maturity (Jessica is 25, Rory 21, and Phoebe 18) has also affected them when it comes to going their separate ways.
Now it remains to be seen how this family restructuring affects his foundation, and whether the three young Gates will enter it as well. In fact, the philanthropic organization is also facing changes after the death of Gates’ father last September – he served on the board – and with Buffett’s future departure given his age. For now, as he continues to mentor and support Bill Gates, Melinda has one more mirror to look at: Mackenzie Scott (formerly Bezos). The ex-wife of the founder of Amazon is the richest woman in the world and spends her 53,000 million dollars (about 44,450 million euros) on social projects of more than 100 organizations in various fields.