A meeting with Bill Gates was 'just an opportunity to get yelled at,' according to a former Microsoft exec

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A meeting with Bill Gates was 'just an opportunity to get yelled at,' according to a former Microsoft exec
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates in the 1980s with Bookshelf, a new compact disc for computers which holds all the information contained in the books pictured. Doug Wilson/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images
  • Bill and Melinda Gates announced their divorce in May after nearly three decades of marriage.
  • Insiders say there's a different side of Gates than the nerdy tech CEO known to the public.
  • Four women who worked with Gates at Microsoft told Insider he was brash and hot-tempered.

In the wake of Bill and Melinda Gates divorce announcement, people who have known the Microsoft cofounder over the years told Insider there's a different side to Gates than his meticulously crafted public image of a computer nerd and humanitarian.

Four women who worked with Gates at Microsoft told Insider he was brash and hot-tempered. "Having a meeting with Bill was just an opportunity to get yelled at, so I tried to avoid that," a former Microsoft executive who spoke on condition of anonymity said.

Gates was known among some for swearing and berating underlings. "That's the stupidest fucking idea I've ever heard" became a catchphrase for the CEO. He kept tabs on employees by memorizing their license plates. Gates tried to dilute Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen's equity in the company because he was "unproductive" while dealing with his first bout of cancer, Allen wrote in his memoir. Gates' spokesperson denied that he mistreated employees.

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Maria Klawe, a Microsoft board member from 2009 to 2015, told Insider she felt suggestions about improving diversity in succession planning were not anything Gates "was interested in hearing about." Gates, Klawe said, would respond to those suggestions with statements like "'Are you trying to effing destroy the company?' The message was, 'Caring about diversity has nothing to do with the success of Microsoft.'"

A Gates spokesperson called that a "gross mischaracterization to suggest that Mr. Gates lacked interest in speaking about or promoting diversity and inclusion at Microsoft."

Another former Microsoft executive who also spoke on condition of anonymity said Gates was direct and honest. While his management style could intimidate some employees, she appreciated his candor. "Bill yelled at everyone the same," she said.

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As a current Microsoft employee told Insider, "He's just an awkward human being as far as social interactions go."

Click here to read about what insiders said about Bill Gates, including that he was an office bully and pursued sexual affairs, and that his squeaky-clean image was merely good PR.

Do you work at Microsoft or have insight to share? Contact reporter Ashley Stewart via encrypted messaging app Signal (+1-425-344-8242) or email (astewart@insider.com).

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