Tech billionaire Bill Gates would sneak out of his Microsoft office, get into his golden-brown Porsche – just one motor from his vast collection – and dash off to meet women, claims a report in Vanity Fair.
The tycoon, who recently acquired an electric Taycan car, is said to have a penchant for Porsche cars.
Furthermore, the Microsoft co-founder would apparently get an assistant to prepare the car for him; the billionaire would arrive at work in his Mercedes, only to later switch cars to throw any prying eyes “off the scent."
“We all assumed that it was when he was with women. I knew there were many offsite meetings that were not on his calendar,” a Microsoft employee was cited as telling the magazine.
Ever since the 65-year-old announced his divorce from Melinda French Gates, his wife of 27 years, on 4 May, rumours about his alleged infidelity have surfaced with lightning speed.
While another source within the company was cited as denying the “car switching” account, it was conceded that Gates was “one of the most intensely scheduled people on the planet,” meticulous with planning his day with a special system, which involved “five minute blocks."
Furthermore, two people were quoted by the magazine as claiming that there had been tension between the couple some time before the divorce, and that they had been living separate lives for years. The timing of the split was reportedly postponed until after their daughter graduated from high school.
This comes as former employees of Gates – who topped Forbes' rich list from 1995 to 2017 – are now emerging from the woodwork to complain about "inappropriate workplace behaviour" and his alleged numerous romantic relationships with subordinates.
Furthermore, it was claimed that someone in Melinda Gates’ circle employed a private investigator ahead of the bombshell announcement, with the findings of the probe set to form part of the case.
These claims, however, have been dismissed as “completely false” by a spokesperson for the business magnate, who insisted neither Melinda Gates nor anyone acting on her behalf “had ever hired a private investigator.”
Speculation has also surfaced about Gates’ management style. A former employee was cited by Vanity Fair as confirming that long-standing rumours saying he was a demanding boss were true; missed deadlines apparently meant answering to Gates in person.
One former employee described the Microsoft founder, who left day-to-day operations at the company in 2008 to pursue business and philanthropic endeavours, as “unrelenting” and “condescending,” adding:
“He would ask you a question, and when you answered, he’d look at you and go, ‘That is NOT the right answer.’”
According to ex-staff, the programmer suppressed certain chatter among workers by liberally wielding nondisclosure agreements.
“For such a long time you were told, ‘You have an NDA. You can’t talk,’” one person who allegedly signed such an agreement was cited as saying.
However, even now the former Microsoft employees are reportedly weary of saying the wrong thing, as Gates has lawyers on standby. “And these are not nice lawyers,” the insiders added.
Earlier in May, on the heels of the Gates divorce announcement, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella weighed in on reports about an investigation into an affair between Bill and a Microsoft employee 20 years ago.
"The Microsoft of 2021 is very different from the Microsoft of 2000. Anyone can raise any issue, even an issue from 20 years ago. We will investigate it, take action to the satisfaction of the person who raised it; we have no forced arbitrations. I feel that we have created an environment that allows us to really drive that everyday improvement in our diversity and inclusion culture, which I think is a super important thing," Nadella was cited as saying by CNBC.
A Microsoft spokesperson was previously cited by CNN Business as claiming the company “received a concern” in 2019 that Bill had sought “an intimate relationship” with a company employee in 2000. A Wall Street Journal report also suggested that Gates’ resignation from Microsoft's board of directors came after the board ostensibly employed a law firm to probe the affair.
While a spokesperson for Bill confirmed to the outlet that there was indeed a relationship 20 years ago, it was added that it “ended amicably” and Gates’ decision to leave the company’s board “was in no way related to this matter."
After the Microsoft co-founder’s announced divorce from his wife after 27 years of marriage, the pair, worth $130 billion according to Forbes, revealed they intend to continue their work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As the couple reportedly do not have a prenup agreement, with court documents indicating they only have a separation agreement, the rumour mill can be expected to churn out further headlines for the gossip columns.