I saw people talking about some of this stuff in the comments, but I honestly and truly did not know ANY gossip about Bill Gates and Melinda Gates’ marriage. Every profile I’ve ever read about them, they sounded like they complemented each other completely – she was more of an empath, and he was the numbers-oriented brain. But it does seem like there was more drama there than I initially believed. Melinda has already filed for divorce citing the marriage as “irretrievably broken.” But here’s something I didn’t know before this week: Bill takes an annual vacation with his ex-girlfriend??
Before Bill met Melinda after she joined Microsoft as a product manager in 1987, Bill had been dating Ann Winblad, a software entrepreneur and venture capitalist, according to Time. He developed such a strong bond with Winblad that Bill made sure to keep her in his life after they split in 1987.
“Even now, Gates has an arrangement with his wife that he and Winblad can keep one vacation tradition alive,” Walter Isaacson reported in his 1997 Time story on Bill’s life and career. “Every spring, as they have for more than a decade, Gates spends a long weekend with Winblad at her beach cottage on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where they ride dune buggies, hang-glide and walk on the beach.”
“We can play putt-putt while discussing biotechnology,” he told the magazine in 1997. Winblad added to Time: “We share our thoughts about the world and ourselves. And we marvel about how, as two young overachievers, we began a great adventure on the fringes of a little-known industry and it landed us at the center of an amazing universe.”
When it came time for Bill to propose to Melinda, he asked his ex, Winblad, for her permission.
“When I was off on my own thinking about marrying Melinda, I called Ann and asked for her approval,” he recalled to Time in the 1997 story. Winblad ultimately had no qualms about him popping the question.
“I said she’d be a good match for him because she had intellectual stamina,” she told the outlet.
Whew, lord. All that money and this is what gets people off – one long weekend once a year with his ex-girlfriend. They ride dune buggies and walk on the beach and talk about biotechnology. I just… well… who knows. Apparently, Melinda was fine with it for a long time. Maybe she stopped being fine with it. Or maybe it was something else entirely. Or someone else.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.