Warren Buffett might be stepping down from his role as a trustee on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, but that won’t impact his relationship with Bill Gates. The two billionaires have been best friends for almost 30 years.
On June 23, Buffett announced his planned departure from the charitable organization. The Gates Foundation is one of five foundations that Buffett has been donating his Berkshire Hathaway shares to since 2006. The Gates Foundation is the only corporate board besides Berkshire that Buffett serves on, even though he was an “inactive trustee.”
“My goals are 100 percent in sync with those of the foundation, and my physical participation is in no way needed to achieve these goals,” Buffett said in a statement.
The announcement comes a month after Bill and Melinda Gates announced that they were getting divorced. They plan to continue working together on the Gates Foundation, which is a non-profit organization that helps underprivileged people worldwide lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty.
In 2010, the Gates couple and Buffett created The Giving Pledge, which is a program that encourages the wealthy to donate their wealth back into the community. Buffett also announced on June 22 that he gave another $4.1 billion to five foundations, including the Gates Foundation. To date, Buffett has given away about half of the 474,998 Berkshire shares that he pledged to distribute.
“Today is a milestone for me,” Buffett said in a statement. “In 2006, I pledged to distribute all of my Berkshire Hathaway shares — more than 99% of my net worth — to philanthropy. With today’s $4.1 billion distribution, I’m halfway there.”
Warren Buffett and Bill Gates weren’t thrilled about meeting at first.
Buffett and Gates met begrudgingly on July 5, 1991, at a gathering planned by Gates’s mother, Mary. Although neither one of the men was interested in the get-together, they hit it off when they met.
In a 2016 post on Gates’s blog, GatesNotes, Bill wrote that he clearly remembers the date he met Buffett.
“I think the date stands out in my mind so clearly because it marked the beginning of a new and unexpected friendship for Melinda and me—one that has changed our lives for the better in every imaginable way,” Gates wrote. “Warren has helped us do two things that are impossible to overdo in one lifetime: learn more and laugh more.”
The two were a bit of a mismatch. Gates was a tech nerd and Buffett was an investor who didn’t even use email, Gates wrote. Buffett asked him why a small company like Microsoft could expect to compete with IBM.
“These were amazingly good questions that nobody had ever asked. We were suddenly lost in conversation, and hours and hours slipped by,” Gates wrote.
Bill Gates baked an Oreo cake for Warren Buffett’s 90th birthday.
The two world’s wealthiest men have been fast friends ever since. For Buffett’s 90th birthday last year, Gates baked him an Oreo cookie cake. According to Gates, Buffett likes to eat Oreos for breakfast.
“I remember one of the first times he stayed at our house, and he opened up a package of Oreos to eat for breakfast. Our kids immediately demanded they have some too. He may set a poor example for young people, but it’s a diet that somehow works for him,” Gates wrote in 2016.
Buffett and Gates project will build a nuclear reactor in Wyoming.
Earlier this month, the two joined forces on a $1 billion project to build a next-generation nuclear reactor in Wyoming. The reactor is a joint project of Gate’s company TerraPower and Buffett’s power company, PacifiCorp.