After Bill and Melinda Gates announced the end of their 27 year marriage, theories have begun to emerge about possible reasons that could have led the couple to make this difficult decision.
The pair announced in a statement on their verified Twitter accounts, their separation. “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” the statement reads.
According to court documents obtained by People, it was Melinda who filed for divorce. The petition says marriage to Bill is ’irretrievably broken.’ On the other hand, Jennifer Gates recently revealed how hard her parents’ divorce has been, following their separation announcement.
The story that has attracted the most attention is the relationship Bill maintained with Ann Winblad. She is the woman with whom he had a courtship years before meeting Melinda.
Bill was in a relationship with Ann Winblad for three years. Both met during a Microsoft conference in 1984. They dated for several years, but their relationship ended in 1987. Allegedly, the friendship between them was so strong that they remained friends. Winblad is a software entrepreneur and venture capitalist.
After his wedding with Melinda in 1994, one of the agreements he reached with his wife was that he could continue maintaining a relationship with Winblad, with whom he used to spend the summer during the years that their courtship lasted.
“Every spring, Gates spent a long weekend with Winblad at their cottage in North Carolina‘s Outer Banks, where they rode buggies, hang gliding, strolled along the beach, and shared their thoughts about the world and themselves,” as Walter Isaacson, Bill Gates’ biographer, announced in an article published for Time magazine in 1997.
Bill fell in love with Melinda shortly after he ended the relationship with Winblad, but had a hard time taking the step of marrying her.
“He had a decision to make, he didn’t know if he could commit to me and run Microsoft at the same time,” said Melinda in the Netflix documentary ‘Inside Bill’s Brain.’
Melinda also revealed that one day she surprised him drafting a list on a board with “the pros and cons of getting married.”
”I took the idea of marriage very seriously,” Bill explained in the documentary. “We loved each other very much and there were only two possibilities: either we broke up or we got married.” In the article published by Time, Bill even confessed: ”When I was thinking of marrying Melinda, I called Ann and asked for her approval.” Winblad told him that Melinda ”would be a good match for him because he had great intellectual strength.” They finally got engaged in 1993 and were married on January 1, 1994 in a secret wedding at the Manele Bay Hotel in Maui, Hawaii.
Bill has kept in touch with Winblad throughout his entire marriage with Melinda. One of their tradition was spending the holidays together. In fact, the Gates couple partnered with her at Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, a venture company focused on investing in software. Winblad has been married for six years to San Francisco private investigator Edward Alex Kline, who is the younger brother of actor Kevin Kline.
Winblad, in her 70s, is a founding partner of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners and director of Optimine Software Inc, located in the Minneapolis metropolitan area. OptiMine Software is an optimization platform that helps digital advertisers increase display and financial performance. Aside from her lucrative financial ventures, she is also involved in philanthropy.
Winblad is the trustee of the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, a organization created in 2004 that seeks to strengthen and support initiatives in education, health and human services that benefit humanity and provides families with resources for the development and education of their children.