The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation started with ambitions that, by its high standards today, seem almost original: to provide free Internet access to public libraries in the United States. its founders were growing, the scopeof the foundation grew, until it reached its current position as a leading private institution in the field of global public health.
With 1,600 staff allocating $ 5 billion in annual grants to 135 countries around the world, the Gates Foundation has set a new standard for philanthropy private in the 21st century.
Headquarters' message to SeattlIt was clear: Bill and Melinda Gates may go their separate ways, but the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is not going anywhere. Their roles as co-chairs and trustees do not change, and they will continue to set the agenda for the organization that bears their name. In an email on Monday, the CEO of the Gates Foundation, Mark Suzman, assured staff that Mr. and Mrs. Gates remain committed to the organization.
While noting that it was "obviously a difficult time of personal change for " the couple, Mr. Suzman added that "Bill and Melinda have explicitly asked me to express their deep gratitude for all that you do every day, especially during the Covid-19 crisis, as well as for your support and understanding during this difficult time.
The foundation's $ 50 billion endowment is in an irrevocable charitable trust. It cannot bere suppressed or "rammed" as a marital asset, said Megan Tompkins-Stange, professor of public policy and academic philanthropy at the University of Michigan. She noted, however, that there was no legal mandate that would prevent them from changing course.
" I think there may be some changes to come, "she said. "But I don't see it as a big asteroid landing on philanthropy ground as some of the hyperbole around it indicates. Image The couple's work through the foundation helped transform Mr. Gates 'image from his days at Microsoft. Credit ... Mike Cohen for Hfrance.fr
Bill Gates has been an object of fascination in the United States almost from the moment he entered the scene in as the founder of Microsoft, the prototypical computer genius turned entrepreneur, the cheesy tinsel of Steve Jobs and his black turtlenecks and artistic designs. He became the richest man in the world, and with the 1998 Justice Department antitrust case against Microsoft, he was heralded as the new John D. Rockefeller, for better or for worse.
But for decades he has transformed his image through the work he and Mrs. Gates have pursued jointly with the foundation, becoming better known for his generosity rather than for his cruelty in business. The roughly $ 55 billion the Gates Foundation donated also gave the couple instant access to heads of state and industry leaders.
Ms. Gates has had her own growing profile, both through her work for the foundation and through her company, Pivotal Ventures, which she has used since 2015 to invest in causes related to the economic empowerment of women. Some observers noted that Ms. Gates had a ajadded her maiden name, French, to her Twitter profile. The coronavirus epidemic›
The couple deployed their connections last year, in response to the pandemic, calling on leaders like the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi to garner support for their projects. The foundation has committed $ 1.75 billion to date for its Covid-19 response, and has played a key role in shaping the global agreement to bri ng vaccines in poor countries.
This importance has also brought a good deal of control, highlighting the strong defense of property rightsMr. Gates' intellectual mind - in this case, specific to vaccine patents - even in times of dire crisis, as well as the larger question of how unelected wealthy individuals can play such an important role on the world stage.
"In a democratic civil society, the personal choices of a couple should not drive academic research centers, service providers and organizations nonprofit to really wonder if they can continue, "said Maribel Morey, founding executive director of the Miami Institute for the Social Sciences. Image In a request for Credit ... Elizabeth D. Herman for The Hfrance.fr
Ms. Gates filed the Monday motion in king county superior court, washington, calling the marriage "irretrievably broken" and asking the court to dissolve. in her file mrs gates said they were already separated. she signed the form in b ellevue, mr. play a role in palm desert, california, close to home.
Before the news of
And as his public profile during the pandemic increased, false theories of complot, such as the Global Immunization Effort, allowed Mr Gates to implant microchips to track people, blatantly bogus but still damaging as misinformation increased vaccination hesitation.
Then Mr. Gates' father, Bill Gates Sr., also co-chair of the foundation, passed away in September . The eldest, Mr. Gates, had initially taken the helm of his son's charitable activities, while the younger Mr. Gates was still the head of Microsoft. Bill Gates Sr. was considered by many to be a calm voice and moral compass within the organization, even though he had retired in recent years.
Third director billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett turned 90 this yearlast and began discussing succession plans for his company, Berkshire Hathaway.
Dr. Morey said the recent changes could also present an opportunity to create a broad and Image " Each of them individually will be as influential as I collectively think, "said an officer at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Credit ... Ludovic Marin / Agence France-Presse - Images
Sir. and Ms Gates had faced difficulties in their marriage in recent years and even at times when it was close to collapse, according to people close to them. Now that they've made the break formal and legal, many in their orbit are scrambling to try and figure out what this means for the foundation. There are concerns that Ms. Gates is putting more effort into Pivotal Ventures while Mr. Gates is spending even more time in his own private office, Gates Ventures. Others describe these fears as exaggerated.
"Bill and Melinda have always had their own businesses. They each always spent time on it and time on their foundation," said Greg Ratliff, senior vice president of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, who worked at the Gates Foundation for a decade. "This will continue to be a great foundation and influent, and each of them will be individually as influential as I think they were collectively.
While it seems clear that the foundation will go ahead with its vast resources, there remains the question of Gates 'fortune, which Forbes is estimated at $ 124 billion. The
"People are right to feel unhitched when it comes to the direction of the foundation " said Ms. Tompkins-Stange of the University. from Michigan. "There is a lot of ambiguity, as there can be in any situation.on de