Billionaire Bill Gates and his wife Melinda created a stir earlier this week when they announced they will be divorcing after 27 years of marriage.
According to subsequent reports, their marriage included at least one seemingly unusual feature, as Bill Gates explained in a 1997 interview with Time magazine. Even after marrying his wife, he said at the time that he continued to take annual vacations with his ex-girlfriend, Ann Winblad.
“The center of an amazing universe”
Winblad, a businesswoman who founded San Francisco-based Hummer Winblad Venture Partners in 1989, traveled with Gates to her beachfront home in North Carolina, the article revealed.
“We can play putt-putt while discussing biotechnology,” Gates said of their outings, describing walks on the beach and dune buggy rides as common features of their trips.
For her part, Winblad said that the excursions gave the one-time couple an opportunity to “share our thoughts about the world and ourselves.”
She added that they both “marvel” about their mutual paths “on the fringes of a little-known industry” that led them to “the center of an amazing universe.”
Before Gates proposed to his soon-to-be-ex-wife, he said he sought Winblad’s input.
“This next phase of our lives”
“When I was off on my own thinking about marrying Melinda, I called Ann and asked for her approval,” he recalled.
In 2005, Winblad noted that she was the more successful of the two when they began dating, adding: “There was a period of time when my net worth was higher than his, and I had to pay for everything.”
Now, Gates represents half of a highly influential power couple in charge of a massive philanthropic foundation that now faces an uncertain future in light of the separation announcement.
Bill and Melinda Gates confirmed their plans by posting identical statements to their respective Twitter accounts on Monday.