Bill Gates, the largest shareholder of Microsoft Corporation has said that he will retire in 2008 from the company he founded 30 years ago. Gates, who has an estimated net worth of $50 billion, says he will retain the Chairman title at Microsoft but plans to work full time for the non-profit Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which he started in 1995. The foundation has an endowment of $29 billion, making it the largest charitable foundation in the US. The foundation has committed more than $10 billion in grants, mostly in the area of global health care and education.
Gates stepped down from the CEO role at Microsoft in 2000, turning over the reigns to long-time friend and colleague Steve Ballmer in order to take on the role of Chief Software Architect. Ray Ozzie, author of Lotus Notes and founder of Groove Networks, which Microsoft acquired in 2005, will immediately take on the role of Chief Software Architect.
Although I've been critical of Microsoft at times, this is truly the end of an era. Gates has helped drive the PC industry from the very beginning. I believe the impact he will have in helping to fight poverty will be even more significant.