William Henry Gates III was born in 1955 in Seattle, Washington, where he grew up and developed an interest in computers at an early age. While studying at Harvard University, he founded the Microsoft Software Company with his friend Paul Allen, and shortly thereafter dropped out of college to grow the company full time. It became the world’s largest personal computer software company. Over time, in addition to co-founder, he held the positions of Chairman, CEO, president, and chief software architect while also being its largest individual shareholder until 2014. He is credited as one of the best known entrepreneurs of the microcomputer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s. Most recently, Gates had an estimated net worth that marked him the fourth-richest person in the world. In 2008, Gates retired from Microsoft to dedicate himself almost exclusively to philanthropic work.
Bill and Melinda Gates met at a Microsoft conference and married in 1994. They had three children and divorced in 2021. Together, they founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, which has become the world’s wealthiest charitable foundation. The foundation focuses on five major programmatic areas that include: the Global Health, Global Development, Global Growth & Opportunity, United States, and Global Policy & Advocacy. In 2006, the Gates Foundation formed a $150 million partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, and received a multi-year pledge from Warren Buffett to give over 10 million of his company’s shares to the Gates Foundation. They later created The Giving Pledge, which signified a commitment to donating at least half of their wealth to charity over the course of their lifetime.