The Gates couple announced this week that they are ending 27 years of marriage. At stake are a fortune of 124,000 million dollars and the future of the most important foundation in the world.
The acting wife of Bill Gates who has recently recovered her maiden name, French was the ideologist of the Gates Foundation, which began in 2000 under his tutelage and today is the largest philanthropic entity in the world, with 51,000 million dollars in assets. A declared feminist, she is said to be the most progressive and practical of the couple so far.
The second of four siblings, she was born in 1964 into a middle-class, Catholic household. The father was a space engineer, the mother a housewife, and she was a “star student” at the Ursuline college. In college he studied computing (his father had given him his first computer.
An Apple II) and later he did an MBA. In 1987 she was the only woman, and the youngest, of the 10 managerial signings made by Microsoft.
They met in New York at a company meeting, where she was leading the user experience and multimedia division. Soon, after a call from him, they started dating.
Melinda’s mother told her that meeting the boss didn’t seem like a good idea. Gates’s, on the other hand, could not believe that his son was dating such a “nice” girl.
They married in Hawaii in 1994 and two years later the first of their three children, Jennifer Katharine , was born, followed by Rory John , 21, and Phoebe Adele , 18.
Neither will be the trustee of the fabulous family fortune, but neither will they will struggle: they will inherit 10 million each.
After the birth of her children, Melinda put her career on hold at Microsoft and found that being a “solo mom”, with a partner reconciling planes and meetings, could overcome the stress levels of top management.
In his 2019 memoirs, he pointed out that the foundation was born precisely from that vital crisis and the growing mismatch between its origins and Microsoft’s effervescent profits.