Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft has been the richest man in the world for the past 4 years. He has amassed a fortune of over $92 billion as of 2018. However, recently the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos surpassed him with a net worth of 105 billion as of 2018. Bezos first surpassed Gates’ record as the world’s richest man in October 2017 when his fortune reached $93 billion.
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Gates became the youngest billionaire in the world back in 1987 at age 31 shortly after Microsoft’s launch. In 1995, at age 39 he became the world’s richest man with a fortune of $12 billion and held that title for decades to come.
So, what made him lose the title of the richest man alive? Was it Jeff Bezos cunning business strategies? Or did Microsoft shares drop?
The reason that Bill Gates is no longer the richest man in the world is that he gave much of his money away.
In the year 2000, Bill Gates stepped down as the CEO of Microsoft and started The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife in hopes of making the world a better place to live in. The two shifted all their focus on to full-time philanthropy and in the past 18 years, have donated billions of dollars in cash and 700 million Microsoft shares to charity and in doing so, have successfully worked out solutions to major issues around the world.
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The couple has been very vocal about giving away most of their wealth to charitable causes in their lifetime. Bill and Melinda don’t just plan on giving away their own wealth but also started a movement for encouraging extremely rich individuals to donate money to charitable causes. He started this movement with Warren Buffet and is called ‘The Giving Pledge’. More than 150 millionaires and billionaires from around the world have signed this pledge including big names like Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson etc.
“We have committed the vast majority of our assets to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help stop preventable deaths such as these, and to tear down other barriers to health and education that prevent people from making the very most of their lives,” wrote Gates in his Giving Pledge letter.
Hello from Tanzania, Instagram! I just had a great lunch with some amazing kids at Kicheba Primary School in Muheza and met Upendo Mwingira, a remarkable physician who has dedicated her career to fighting neglected tropical diseases. Melinda and I have been coming to Tanzania for many years now. I always love seeing how much progress the country has made to improve health and provide opportunity. Plus, the scenery is stunning. Whenever I travel to places like this, I wish others could come along and meet the people I get to meet. I have no doubt it would leave them as optimistic as I am about progress happening around the world. I’ll be sharing photos from my adventures here on Instagram, and I hope you’ll follow along.
The foundation has already taken on many major projects in the world. In 2000, the foundation made an effort of $1 billion to send more than 20,000 education deprived children to school. In recent years, Bill and Melinda have made huge efforts towards fighting Alzheimer’s, providing rights and facilities to women in various developing countries across the globe and are promoting workshops of global health all across the world and these are only to name a few of their efforts.
Perhaps the foundation’s biggest achievement is all that it has done for eradicating polio. Bill and Melinda have contributed close to $3 billion in hopes of eradicating polio completely by 2020.
“Progress in fighting polio might be one of the world’s best-kept secrets in global health,” wrote Gates in the 2017 edition of the annual letter of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He hopes to eradicate polio very soon saying, “If things stay stable enough in the conflicted areas, humanity could see its last case of polio this year.”
Since 2007, the foundation has focused a lot of it’s work towards providing vaccines in different countries and eradicating different diseases and numbers show that their efforts have been of huge help.
By 1998, the polio virus was a problem in more than 125 countries and affected nearly 350,000 people per year, most of which were children. Now, poliovirus has been reduced by 99 percent and has saved more than 13 million children from polio. Now there are only 12 known cases of the polio virus all across the world.
— Yahoo Finance (@YahooFinance) February 17, 2018
In a projection by Bloomberg, it was estimated that if Gates had not given away the assets in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, his wealth would have been close to $150 billion which is much more than Bezos.
About their wealth, the couple says, “We have been blessed with good fortune beyond our wildest expectations, and we are profoundly grateful, but just as these gifts are great, so we feel a great responsibility to use them well.”