Tech | October 19, 2021 7:30 am

Report: Bill Gates Warned by Microsoft Executives About Inappropriate Emails in 2008

Gates reportedly "propositioned" a midlevel female employee when he was married

Bill Gates with a suit and tie at a lectern speaking in October 2019 in Lyon, France
Bill Gates speaking in October 2019 in Lyon, France.
LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty

Has any billionaire’s public reputation taken as much of a hit in the last year as that of Bill Gates? Among other things, Gates’s feelings on intellectual property and medicine have been criticized for impeding public health efforts during the pandemic. The time Gates spent in the company of Jeffrey Epstein is looking worse and worse in retrospect. And in the wake of the announcement of his divorce, reports of Gates engaging in inappropriate workplace behavior have also prompted many to alter their opinions of the man.

Now, a new report suggests there’s even more to Gates’s conduct at Microsoft than previously known. Writing at The Wall Street Journal, Emily Glazer reports that, in 2008, several executives reached out to Gates about emails he had sent to a female Microsoft employee the year before. As Glazer describes it, “the then-married Mr. Gates was flirtatious and propositioned the female employee,” citing anonymous sources who are familiar with the matter.

At the time, Gates was still working at Microsoft and chairman of the board, making this highly inappropriate behavior. Brad Smith, then the company’s general counsel, and Lisa Brummel, then the company’s Chief People Officer, reportedly informed him of that fact and asked him to stop. Gates did so.

A spokesperson for Microsoft told the Wall Street Journal that the woman involved had not reported her interaction with Gates. Gates’s own spokesperson took a more direct route, saying, “These claims are false, recycled rumors from sources who have no direct knowledge, and in some cases have significant conflicts of interest.”

Plenty of people have a significant gulf between their public and private lives. In the case of Gates, we’re getting a good look at just how significant that divide was.