More than 10 years before he stepped down from Microsoft's board because of an investigation into a relationship with an employee, former CEO Bill Gates was warned by two company executives about the inappropriate emails he was sending to the woman, reports today the Wall Street Journal.
While still an employee at Microsoft and serving as chairman of the board, Bill Gates and a female employee exchanged love emails, the magazine reported, although he was married at the time.
When confronted with two company executives, Gates did not deny the exchange of messages or say he would stop. These executives informed some members of the Microsoft board, but eventually the board decided that since there was no physical contact between the woman and Bill Gates, they did not need to do anything.
A Microsoft spokesman confirmed the Wall Street Journal report but did not add anything new to a question asked by TheVerge.
However, company spokeswoman Frank Shaw told the Wall Street Journal that in 2008, the company was notified of the exchange of messages, which took place in 2007. The employee did not file a complaint about the incident, according to Shaw. He described the messages as "flirting messages" and "not as openly sexual". He also said that Bill Gates had requested an appointment from the employee but was out of work.
A Gates spokesman told The Verge that something very different from what Microsoft was saying:
"These allegations are false, recycled rumors from sources that do not have direct knowledge and in some cases there are significant conflicts of interest."
In 2019, some members of Microsoft's board suggested that Gates resign as an investigation into an alleged relationship with an employee began. Gates resigned from the board in March 2020, before the investigation was completed.
The employee reportedly wrote a letter to the board admitting that she had had a long-term sexual relationship with Gates.
He and Melinda French Gates, who have been married for 27 years, divorced last August.