Bill and Melinda Gates announced on Monday afternoon that they are ending their marriage after 27 years.
The pair made the announcement simultaneously with identical messages shared on their Twitter accounts. Melinda Gates also shared the news on Instagram.
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” read the statement. “Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and build a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives.”
“We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives,” continued the statement. “We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”
Bill and Melinda French Gates met in 1987, more than a decade after Bill Gates first founded Microsoft, when she was working as a product manager at the company. In 2013, he told TODAY that their first date was after an event he spoke at.
“I had a computer user group meeting I was speaking at, so our first date was quite late that night,” he said. “It was late enough that I’m not sure what was open by then. So we sat at my house and talked.”
The pair wed in 1994, at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai in Hawaii.
In 1996, they welcomed their first child, Jennifer Katharine. That same year, Bill and Melinda Gates established the William H. Gates Foundation, which focuses on advancing global health using charitable donations from Microsoft.
In a statement to her Instagram story on Monday, Jennifer Gates said she is still processing the separation.
“By now many of you have heard the news that my parents are separating,” she wrote, in part, adding it has been a challenging time for the whole family. “I’m still learning how to best support my own process and emotions as well as family members at this time, and am grateful for the space to do so. I won’t personally comment further on anything around the separation, but please know that your kind words and support mean the world to me.”
Bill and Melinda Gates had their second child and first son, Rory John, in 1999. In 2002, their third child, Phoebe Adele, was born.
In 2000, the William H. Gates Foundation merged with another organization, the Gates Learning Foundation, to form the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since 2000, the foundation has spent $53.8 billion and opened international offices all over the world to expand its outreach. In their statement, the couple said that the foundation would continue despite their separation.
In 2020, the foundation committed $1.75 billion to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, including to help with the development and distribution of tests, treatments and vaccines.