Billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett have been best friends for nearly three decades – though Gates was initially not too keen on meeting the legendary investor.
During a New York Times/DealBook conference on Wednesday, Gates spoke about his well-known friendship with Buffett, saying he originally did not think too much of his investing style.
“I didn’t even want to meet Warren because I thought, ‘Hey this guy buys and sells things, and so he found imperfections in terms of markets, that’s not value added to society, that’s a zero-sum game that is almost parasitic.’ That was my view before I met him … he wasn’t going to tell me about inventing something,” Gates said.
After meeting Buffett in 1991, however, Gates said the Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO was one of the only people who asked him “obvious,” but challenging questions.
“I realize everything he does is based on a framework of the world where he’s judging – judging markets, judging people, judging how things work, in a very deep way,” Gates said. “I realized we both – although we come from different places – we’re both trying to model the world and what goes on.”
Gates said that he was able to learn from Buffett about newspapers, retailers, good investments and bad investments.
The two are among the top five richest people in the world. They have also worked together on philanthropic causes, including starting the Giving Pledge, which asks wealthy people who sign on to commit to giving away more than half of their wealth.
Buffett has also donated billions to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
It’s a coincidence the pair of friends are billionaires, Gates said, but it might be a similar mindset that led them to both their fortunes and a lasting friendship.
The Microsoft co-founder said that the world has changed a lot since the two became friends, giving them plenty to talk “forever” about.