Bill Gates to step down from Microsoft, Berkshire Hathaway boards

14 Mar, 2020 07:15

Singularity Financial Hong Kong March 14, 2020 – Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates is stepping down from the boards of the software company and of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., according to a press release and a filing late Friday.

Microsoft said in a statement that Gates will dedicate more time to philanthropy, and continue to serve as technology adviser to Chief Executive Satya Nadella. With Gates’s departure, Microsoft’s board will have 12 members.

In a filing, Berkshire only said that Gates, who has served as director since 2004, will retire from the board. Ken Chenault, former American Express Co. chief executive, was nominated to fill Gates’s vacancy.

Gates wrote in a LinkedIn post. “Microsoft will always be an important part of my life’s work and I will continue to be engaged with (Satya Nadella) and the technical leadership to help shape the vision and achieve the company’s ambitious goals. I feel more optimistic than ever about the progress the company is making and how it can continue to benefit the world,” said Gates.

But Gates said he wants to put some of that cash to charitable use and “dedicate more time to philanthropic priorities including global health and development, education, and my increasing engagement in tackling climate change” through his work with nonprofits The Giving Pledge and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

How Bill Gates Respond to the Coronavirus Outbreak

To make testing for the coronavirus easier and cheaper, a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has developed an at-home testing kit that’s ready to roll out to residents of the Seattle area, the region hit hardest by the coronavirus in the U.S. so far.

As first reported by the Seattle Times on Monday, the Gates-funded project aims to “eventually be able to process thousands of tests a day” and expand beyond Seattle to more areas.

Those who suspect that they may have contacted the coronavirus will need to fill out an online form to request a testing kit. They will then be asked to send a nose swab sample back to the lab for analysis. Results will be available in one or two days and, if positive, be fully shared with local health officials to track the virus.

Testing at home can also reduce the need for sick people to visit a hospital, thus lowering the chance of spreading the virus to others.

In a recent blog post titledHow to Respond to Covid-19,” first published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Gates laid out what he believed to be the most important considerations for policy makers and medical researchers in this time of a looming pandemic—which are, in short, accelerating technical solutions (including vaccines and antiviral drugs), form an international effort and preparing government funding.

The philanthropist stressed the importance of helping developing countries that are hit by the epidemic. “In addition to helping their own citizens respond, donor governments should help low- and middle-income countries prepare for this pandemic,” he wrote. “The health systems in many of these countries are already stretched thin, and a pathogen like coronavirus can quickly overwhelm them…By helping countries in Africa and South Asia get ready now, we can save lives and also slow the global circulation of the virus.”

Bill Gates pledged to donate $100 million

Bill Gates is also donating $50 Million to speed up the development of a coronavirus treatment. Funded through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the donation program––dubbed the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator––is a whopping $50 million to be dispersed to 12 pharmaceutical companies and biotech firms which are actively looking to find an effective vaccine against the coronavirus. But that donation comes with a crucial caveat: the successful company or companies must make the vaccine affordable and accessible to even the world’s poorest regions.

Bill and Melinda Gates pledged to donate $100 million through their foundation on February 5 to treat what he’s calling a “once-in-a-century pathogen.” 

The Gates’ pledge will be used to support treatment efforts across the globe, build infrastructure to treat patients in Africa and Southern Asia, and fund the development of a vaccine, the couple’s foundation said in a press release. They previously pledged to donate $10 million.