James Wallace alleged that Bill Gates was "no choir boy" in his early days.
The former Seattle Post-Intelligencer investigative reporter, who wrote two books about the Microsoft co-founder in the ‘90s, wondered if the billionaire would go back to his hard-partying bachelor days now that his marriage to Melinda Gates is over.
"A lot of those Microsoft kids back then, they were young guys in pizza-stained t-shirts for two or three days working on software code," he told the U.K.’s DailyMail on Monday. "Then they would have some pretty wild parties, where they would go out and get strippers in Seattle and bring them over to Bill’s home. He wasn’t a choir boy back then, he wasn’t just this little computer nerd. He did have a life back then."
According to the outlet, Wallace detailed Gates’ alleged "naked parties" in the 1997 book "Overdrive: Bill Gates and the Race to Control Cyberspace." At the time, Wallace claimed Gates would throw "wild bachelor parties" and "visit one of Seattle’s all-nude nightclubs and hire dancers to come to his home and swim naked with his friends in his indoor pool."
Wallace also alleged that the chairman’s "womanizing" also put a strain on his relationship with Melinda while they were dating.
"Though Gates began dating French [Melinda’s maiden name] in 1988, he continued to play the field for a while, especially when he was out of town on business, when he would frequently hit on female journalists who covered Microsoft and the company industry," he wrote, as quoted by the outlet.
"His womanizing was well known, although not well reported, because Gates and Microsoft spoon-fed stories to industry writers for such papers as the New York Times, and none of them wanted the flow of information to stop," Wallace alleged.
"French was well aware of Gates’ womanizing, and consequently their relationship ran hot and cold," the author also claimed. "At one point, they broke up for nearly a year, reportedly because Gates refused to make any kind of commitment. When they got back together again in 1992, however, the relationship grew closer and stronger."
The Gateses met after Melinda began working at Microsoft as a product manager in 1987. They married in 1994.
According to the outlet, former Microsoft executive Vern Raburn corroborated the book’s allegations.
"Being naked in a pool is no big deal," the aerospace entrepreneur told the outlet. "There’s a difference between being naked in a pool with a whole bunch of other people, and being naked in a pool with somebody else, or in bed with somebody else."
The Eclipse Aviation founder said that "to the best of my knowledge," Gates was faithful to Melinda after their 1994 marriage.
"I never saw any of that," he told the outlet. "Certainly prior to their marriage, yeah. Bill liked to party. But I never saw any of that after the marriage."
"In fact, I had dinner with him one night," the 70-year-old continued. "He said he was very proud of the fact that he hadn’t done any of that since he got married."
Raburn insisted that the Gateses are "good people."
"I truly hope Bill and Melinda end up being happy," said Raburn. "I went through a divorce myself maybe 12 years ago. Anybody who tells you they have a good divorce, they’re lying through their teeth."
The former couple announced they are divorcing but would keep working together at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the largest charitable foundations in the world.
In identical tweets, the Gateses said they had made the decision to end their marriage of 27 years.
Type of media: Tweet
Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/BillGates/status/1389316412259270657
"We have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives," they said in a statement. "We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life."
Court documents obtained by People magazine showed that Melinda filed for divorce and stated in the petition that their marriage was "irretrievably broken." The documents also revealed that the Gateses don’t have a prenuptial agreement in place, but will divide their assets according to a separation agreement.
Bill Gates was formerly the world’s richest person and his fortune is estimated at well over $100 billion. How the couple ends up settling their estate and any impact on the foundation will be closely watched.
Time magazine previously reported that before Gates met Melinda, he dated Ann Winblad, a software entrepreneur and venture capitalist. Although the couple split in 1987, they still shared a strong bond.
"Even now, Gates has an arrangement with his wife that he and Winblad can keep one vacation tradition alive," the outlet alleged. "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," Gates told the magazine in 1997.
In her 2019 memoir, "The Moment of Lift," Melinda wrote about her life and the private struggles she faced as the wife of a public icon and stay-at-home mom with three kids.
She also detailed the ways they navigated imbalances in their marriage and parenting journey. She noted how working together at the foundation made the relationship better.
"Bill and I are equal partners," Melinda told the Associated Press. "Men and women should be equal at work."
The Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the most influential private foundation in the world, with an endowment worth nearly $50 billion. It has focused on global health and development and U.S. education issues since incorporating in 2000.
While both are global figures, Melinda has increasingly built her profile as a champion of women and girls.
The former tech business executive launched her private Pivotal Ventures investment and incubation company in 2015 and recently partnered with MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, for a newly announced equity challenge.
Last year, Gates said he was stepping down from Microsoft’s board to focus on philanthropy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.