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What is Bill Gates’ net worth? How much money does he make?

Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft has a net worth of around $130 billion, most of which is in the stock market. How much money does he still make?

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What is Bill Gates’ net worth? How much money does he make?
POOL REUTERS

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, was ranked by Forbes as the richest man in the world eighteen times over the last twenty-three years. Gates is estimated to have a net worth of around $130 billion, but little is known how his wealth was impacted by his divorce from Melinda Gates which was finalized in August 2021.

Additionally, exactly how high Gates' salary was at Microsoft is unknown. Other than a company document published in 2006 which shows that with a base salary of $616,667 and bonuses totaling $350,000, he earned around $966,667, very little has been published.

The founding of Microsoft

A Seattle native, Gates was born into an upper-middle-class family and in his youth was able to explore his interest in computer programming. Gates was a great student, scoring very high on the SAT and combined with his experience as a page in the halls of Congress in 1972, was accepted to Harvard.

After arriving at the Ivy League, he pursued a bachelor’s degree in pre-law but ended up dropping out to focus on an emerging entrepreneurial idea he had. When explaining his choice to leave Harvard in 1994, Gates said: "if things hadn't worked out, I could always go back to school. I was officially on leave.” It is clear, however, that things did in fact work out for the young Gates.

Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft in 1975, but it was not until 1983 that the company established itself as Microsoft Corporation Inc., and began to release the products that consumers recognize the brand for today. The first version of Microsoft Word was launched in 1983, but the program did not become the leader in the market until the late 80s, early 90s because its interface was seen as complicated for users.

Bill Gates has paid around six billion dollars in federal taxes, more than any other individual in US history. However, this only represents a tiny fraction of the billionaire’s wealth. Like Jeff Bezos, Gates has been able to take advantage of the US tax code which does not tax wealth held in stocks and other financial instruments in the same way it does income.

Gates enters the philanthropic sector

In 2000, the Gates couple established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which jumpstarted their entry into the philanthropic sector. The organization, registered as a 501(3) has an endowment of over $40 billion and focuses on increasing access to healthcare, combatting hunger, and reducing poverty around the world. In 2008, Bill Gates began to focus more of his time on the foundation, and in 2014 stepped down from his leadership roles at Microsoft.

Although Bill and Melinda are now divorced, they plan to continue chairing the organization jointly.

What is The Giving Pledge?

In 2010, Bill Gates and his longtime friend and fellow-billionaire Warren Buffet established The Giving Pledge -- a campaign to encourage the super-rich to give away more than half of their wealth before their death. The Pledge was founded in an effort "to help shift the social norms of philanthropy among the world’s wealthiest people and inspire people to give more, establish their giving plans sooner, and give in smarter ways."

Can philanthropy solve the world's most pressing problems?

Critics of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others like it led by the super-rich are extremely concerned by the precedent set by the Gateses and The Giving Pledge. As private organizations, evaluating the effectiveness of the initiatives launched, is difficult because of the lack of transparency. As Pablo Eisenberg of Georgetown Public Policy Institute told Nature in 2007, you now have “foundations with assets larger than almost 70 percent of the world’s nations making decisions about public policy and public priorities […] without any public discussion or political process.

The way billionaires are able to keep such high proportions of their wealth limits the power of government to tackle issues at the national and global levels. This limitation is justified by the super-rich by arguing that based on their connections, knowledge, and freedom as private entities can direct funds more quickly. However, some experts worry that their priorities differ from those in the public sector and that rather than solving these challenges, a complex web of organizations is set up which could in the end serve the interests of the super-rich and make solving issues like global poverty more difficult.