Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is stepping down from the company’s board of directors to spend more time on philanthropy.
Gates still plans on contributing to Microsoft, the company he once led as CEO. But going forward, his main priorities will include finding solutions to global health and education problems, along with tackling climate change.
“Stepping down from the board in no way means stepping away from the company,” Gates wrote in his announcement on Friday. “Microsoft will always be an important part of my life’s work and I will continue to be engaged with Satya (Microsoft’s current CEO) and the technical leadership to help shape the vision and achieve the company’s ambitious goals.”
Gates is also departing as a board member to Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate. “The leadership at the Berkshire companies and Microsoft has never been stronger, so the time is right to take this step,” he added in today’s post.
Gates will always be connected to Microsoft, which he founded with friend Paul Allen back in 1975. He then went on to lead it as company CEO until 2000, turning Microsoft into what was then the biggest software giant in the world.
Since then, his name has increasingly become tied with philanthropy. In 2006, Gates announced he would step away as Microsoft’s chief software architect to focus on leading his charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has been trying to fight poverty and infectious diseases, among other goals. Reportedly, the foundation’s latest project is to deliver coronavirus home-testing kits to the Seattle area.
Microsoft, on the other hand, has seen its enterprise business and stock grow under the leadership of current CEO Satya Nadella, who took over in 2014. Nevertheless, Gates had still maintained a position as a Microsoft board member, which he used to advise the company.
“It’s been a tremendous honor and privilege to have worked with and learned from Bill over the years,” Nadella said in response to Gates’ announcement. “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.”
“As a member of the Board, he challenged us to think big and then think even bigger,” added John Thompson, Microsoft independent board chair.