Bill Gates To End Regular Duties at Microsoft by July 2008, Devote Full-Time Efforts to Gates Foundation
Bill Gates on Thursday announced plans to relinquish over the next two years all daily work duties at Microsoft, the company he founded, and work fulltime for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which to date has spent more than $10 billion on programs to fight HIV/AIDS and other global health concerns and reform education, the Los Angeles Times reports (Gaither/Yue Jones, Los Angeles Times, 6/16). Melinda and Bill Gates and Irish musician Bono in December 2005 were named TIME magazine's "Persons of the Year" for their efforts to improve global health and eradicate poverty. The Gates Foundation has an endowment of $29 billion (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/19/05). According to the Times, the foundation's spending "rivals" that of the World Health Organization (Los Angeles Times, 6/16). The Gates Foundation accounts for more than half of worldwide spending, about $159 million, on research and treatment for diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria. "With success, I have been given great wealth," Bill Gates said, adding, "And with great wealth comes great responsibility to give back to society, to see that those resources are put to work in the best possible way to help those in need" (Kehaulani Goo, Washington Post, 6/16). Bill Gates will remain chair of Microsoft and have the title of "senior technical adviser" after the transition is complete (Keefe, Cox/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/16).
Role at Foundation
Bill Gates said he does not plan to run the Gates Foundation, which he founded with his wife, Melinda, and instead will have a role similar to his current one at Microsoft (Washington Post, 6/16). The Gates and Bill's father, William Gates, are co-chairs of the foundation. Patty Stonesifer, CEO of the Gates Foundation, said in a statement that both Bill and Melinda Gates will increase their participation in the foundation. Stonesifer added that she does not plan to change the management structure. "The foundation's staff and leadership benefit greatly from Bill and Melinda's continued growing involvement in our work," Stonesifer said, adding, "With the management team we put in place earlier this year, we believe we have the right structure in place to accommodate growth, so that our work can have an even greater impact in the decade ahead" (Gordon Blankinship, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/16).
Potential Effect of Announcement
Bill Gates' "deeper focus" on the foundation likely will "accelerate the impact" of efforts to tackle diseases such as malaria and "how philanthropy itself operates," USA Today reports (Hopkins, USA Today, 6/16). Gates' announcement "is good news for the world's poor," Anne Lynam Goddard -- chief of staff of CARE, which has received $10 million in grants for health programs from the Gates Foundation -- said. According to Lynam Goddard, "The Gates Foundation has been a trendsetter. They've raised the bar in public health and reinvigorated it." Orin Levine, executive director of a Gates Foundation-funded Johns Hopkins University program to increase access to pneumococcal vaccines, said that in addition to the money, the foundation's "entrepreneurial, results-focused culture has been a great thing for global health" (Washington Post, 6/16). Sally Osberg, CEO of the Skoll Foundation, said Gates' changing role reflects the "complex" nature of current problems in the world, and "that means philanthropy needs to move from the margins and into the mainstream." Gates will be "watched ... modeled and criticized" in philanthropy "just as he was watched in business," Paul Schervish, director of the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College, said, adding that Gates' decision could lead other wealthy people to invest time and money in public programs (Pimentel/Guynn, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/16).
Several broadcast programs reported on Gates' announcement and his comments on global health work, including fighting HIV/AIDS and malaria:
- ABCNews' "World News Tonight": The segment includes comments from Bill and Melinda Gates (Stark/Stephanopoulos, "World News Tonight," ABCNews, 6/15). Video of the segment is available online.
- CBS' "Evening News": The segment includes comments from Bill Gates (Mason, "Evening News," CBS, 6/15). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- NBC's "Nightly News": The segment includes comments from Bill Gates and David Kirkpatrick, senior editor for Fortune magazine (Thompson, "Nightly News," NBC, 6/15). The complete segment is available online in Windows Media.
- NPR's "Morning Edition": The segment includes comments from Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft; Bill Gates; and Suresh Kotha, professor at the University of Washington Business School (Kaufman, "Morning Edition," NPR, 6/16). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
Gates' Shift Will Benefit HIV-Positive People, Editorial Says
While Bill Gates' "gradual retreat from Microsoft" is likely to have an "evolutionary" rather than "revolutionary" effect on the company's investors, competitors and customers, it likely will most affect people living with HIV or malaria, "impoverished" people in developing countries and students in the U.S., a Times editorial says. When the Gates Foundation was founded in 2000, "most wealthy donors had been giving their money to ego-driven projects," but Bill Gates marked a "revolutionary moment in American philanthropy" when he "set out to use his billions to solve the most pressing problems in the world: poverty, ignorance and disease," according to the Times. Bill Gates' "legacy may well rest upon what he does in the next few decades" at his foundation, "not what he did in the last few" at Microsoft, the editorial concludes (Los Angeles Times, 6/16).