Controversy, scandal and “inappropriate” behaviour are some new words that you can associate with billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates. Why? Because two reports have emerged alleging details of “uncomfortable” advances from Gates onto female employees, and an alleged sexual relationship, amongst other things.

Details of Bill Gates’ private life have been the hot topic in the media ever since his seemingly perfect 27-year marriage with Melinda Gates ended earlier this month. Stories have come forward, tea has been spilt, and the once-average history of this wealthy figure has become filled with increasingly worrying allegations.

There’s a lot to process here, so I’m going to simplify everything that has been said so far about Bill Gates into a quick read, so you can be on your way without having to be bogged down in rumours and revelations.

First, The New York Times

On May 16, The New York Times posted a massive yarn about Bill Gates’ “reputation for questionable behaviour.”

In it, multiple things were alleged from anonymous sources, all of who claimed to have either worked with or personally known Bill Gates. Here is everything that was alleged.

  • In 2006, Bill Gates attended a Microsoft presentation lead by a female employee. Afterwards, Gates emailed her asking her to dinner, writing “if this makes you uncomfortable, pretend it never happened.” The email was reportedly presented to the NY Times.
  • In 2008/2009, Gates attended a cocktail party and reportedly attempted to ask a woman out on a date with a “lowered voice” saying  “I want to see you. Will you have dinner with me?” The woman, who anonymously told this to the NY Times, also stated that this made her “uncomfortable.”
  • Six employees at Microsoft all collaboratively confirmed that Gates had a reputation for “clumsy” approaches to women. They also confirmed this behaviour was not predatory, and that Gates respected their declinations, but it still made them “uncomfortable”.
  • Bill Gates also had a relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, which was formed after Epstein was convicted for soliciting prostitution from a minor. This is said to have pushed Melinda to seek a divorce.

So yeah, all that was alleged, and that’s just the icing on the cake.

And then, The Wall Street Journal

Alright, strap yourselves in, because there’s just a little bit more to talk about here.

On May 17, (that’s today), The Wall Street Journal published an exclusive that claimed in 2019, Microsoft’s board of directors launched an investigation after an employee alleged a “sexual relationship” with Gates that they deemed inappropriate.

Gates then coincidentally stepped down in 2020, although a spokesperson is claiming the two matters are completely separate.

“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 spokesperson 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.”

Now, the claims of innocence

Bridgitt Arnold, a spokeswoman for Gates, spoke to the New York Times and made multiple statements about pretty much every claim being made his way, saying they were false rumours.

“Any claim that Gates spoke of his marriage or Melinda in a disparaging manner is false,” said Arnold.

“The claim of mistreatment of employees is also false. The rumours and speculation surrounding Gates’s divorce are becoming increasingly absurd, and it’s unfortunate that people who have little to no knowledge of the situation are being characterised as ‘sources.’”

As for the Epstein friendship? It was an “error in judgment” and Gates expresses his “regrets” towards it, says Arnold.

“It is extremely disappointing that there have been so many untruths published about the cause, the circumstances and the timeline of Bill Gates’s divorce.”

And that’s about the sum of it. Basically, this all comes down to the fact that, allegedly, Gates cheated on his wife, and attempted to (unsuccessfully) multiple times with his own employees. All the while being buddy-buddy with some not-so-great characters.

Shady, scummy and worrying claims, and it all feels like the start of something bigger.

Image: Getty Images / Michael Cohen