News from Microsoft reminds us that parts of our lives continue, despite the global spread of the coronavirus. Last Friday, Microsoft quietly announced that co-founder and technology adviser Bill Gates has stepped down from Microsoft’s board of directors to spend more time on his philanthropic endeavors. In June 2008, Gates stepped away from daily operations at Microsoft to focus more time on the Bill & Melinda Fates Foundation. He remained as Microsoft’s chairman of the board until February 2014, and now he is ready to step aside.
According to a company news release, Gates will remain a technology adviser to Satya Nadella, who became Microsoft’s CEO in February 2014, after 22 years with the company. Meanwhile, Gates wants to work on global health, development, education and climate change engagement.
“It’s been a tremendous honor and privilege to have worked with and learned from Bill over the years. Bill founded our company with a belief in the democratizing force of software and a passion to solve society’s most pressing challenges. And Microsoft and the world are better for it. The board has benefited from Bill’s leadership and vision. And Microsoft will continue to benefit from Bill’s ongoing technical passion and advice to drive our products and services forward. I am grateful for Bill’s friendship and look forward to continuing to work alongside him to realize our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more,” said Nadella.
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Independent board chair John W. Thompson also commented on Gates’ contributions to the company.
“On behalf of our shareholders and the Board, I want to express my deep appreciation to Bill for all his contributions to Microsoft. As a member of the Board, he challenged us to think big and then think even bigger. He leaves an enduring legacy of curiosity and insight that serves as an inspiration for us all,” said Thompson.
Microsoft’s board consists of 12 members, all of whom are independent except Nadella:
- John W. Thompson
- Reid Hoffman, Greylock Partners and co-founder of LinkedIn
- Hugh Johnston, PepsiCo
- Teri L. List-Stoll, Gap, Inc.
- Satya Nadella
- Sandra Peterson, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice
- Penny Pritzker, PSP Partners
- Charles W. Scharf, Wells Fargo & Co.
- Arne Sorenson, Marriott International Inc.
- John w. Stanton, Trilogy Equity Partners
- Emma Walmsley, GlaxoSmithKline
- Padmasree Warrior, Fable Group Inc.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the stock market has had wild swings as investors try to predict how the unprecedented outbreak and reaction will affect investments in the short- and long-term. Microsoft has seen some of those swings, but it is still in pretty good shape. It might have been the luck of the Irish, but yesterday, Microsoft was up $11.15 per share, or 8.23%. At 7:59 p.m. EDT, the company’s stock closed at $146.57. While it has seen peaks and valleys over the last month, it is still pretty far away from its 52-week low of $115.52.
On Friday, Gates announced on Linked that he was stepping down from Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway.
Business Insider reports that Gates, 64, has a net worth of $98 billion, including a Washington estate valued at $125 million, a private plane and a luxury car collection.
Co-founding Microsoft in 1975 with Paul Allen, Gates has certainly earned a break and the luxury to decide what to do with his money and his time. He has built a wildly successful company that has arguably done more for personal computing than virtually any other company in the world, except for possibly Apple. We have no doubt that his intellect and compassion will continue to make the world a better place and at a time when we need them more than ever.