In an interview with CNBC, Microsoft President Brad Smith discussed his relationship with the company’s founder, Bill Gates, following his departure from the board in March.
Smith noted in the CNBC interview that he and Gates spoke at length about the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as “tech issues, remote interactivity, what he’s seeing around the world, what we’re seeing around the world, what businesses should be doing, what governments need to do.”
“I think, you know, what we’ve really always benefited from in terms of Bill is his engagement, his intellect, breadth of understanding of issues and we’re looking forward very much to continuing to do that,” Smith noted.
“With respect to Microsoft, stepping down from the board in no way means stepping away from the company,” Gates said following the announcement of his exit on March 13. “Microsoft will always be an important part of my life’s work.” Gates announced he would be leaving to direct his attention to philanthropic efforts, including global health and climate change. Gates was director of the board at Microsoft until 2014 but began dedicating more of his time to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2008.
“The relationship with Bill is very deep,” Smith added. “He doesn’t come to our board meetings four times a year, doesn’t participate in the board calls, but he’s very much connected to the company.”
In April, Gates announced that his philanthropic organization, the Gates Foundation would be investing billions into building factories for seven promising coronavirus vaccine candidates. This is in addition to donating $250 million toward the crisis and promoting the importance of developing a safe and effective vaccine. In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Gates also pleaded with the government to enforce stricter lockdown measures and estimated that the US would need an additional ten weeks of shutdowns to deal effectively with the outbreak.
Gates co-founded Microsoft in 1975 with Paul Allen, who died in 2018. Gates was CEO until 2000 when Steve Ballmer took over the role. Microsoft’s current CEO, Satya Nadella, took over in 2014. Then in 2015, Smith became the company’s president after spending 22 years at the company.