The US is home to many of the world’s richest women and Melinda French Gates is among the top ten with her multi-billion dollar fortune. Gates is a well-known philanthropist and has been associated with several social causes. Melinda Gates’ net worth is estimated at around $13 billion in 2024 much of which was transferred to her as part of her divorce from former husband Bill Gates.

Let’s dive into her career, net worth, and life story to see what insights we can learn from the world-famous philanthropist.

Melinda Gates Net Worth Breakdown:

Since most of Melinda Gates’ net worth comes from the divorce settlement, the details of which were not made public, it’s impossible to pinpoint her exact net worth. However, we have been able to collect plenty of public information about her various sources of income, investments, assets, and business ventures to present a solid estimate that puts Melinda Gates’ net worth at $13 billion in 2024.

Asset or Income Source Contribution to Net Worth
Publicly traded securities $6 billion
Cash and equivalents $6 billion
OCI NV stake $700 million
Total Net Worth $13 billion

Melinda French Gates Net Worth: Early Life of a Star Philanthropist

Melinda Gates was born Melinda Ann French on August 15, 1964, in Dallas, Texas. Her father Raymond Joseph French Jr. was an aerospace engineer while her mother Elaine Agnes Amerland, was a homemaker. Gates attended St. Monica Catholic School in Dallas and in 1982 she graduated as valedictorian from Ursuline Academy of Dallas.

melinda gates early childhood
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Gates, who was introduced to the Apple II (which was among the first consumer computers) by her father when she was 14, eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics from Duke University in 1986.

Melinda Gates Net Worth: Marketing at Microsoft

Gates was offered a job at IBM after her graduation but she instead chose Microsoft which was then a small software company. It was actually a hiring manager at IBM who advised her to join Microsoft instead.

“IBM’s a great company, but Microsoft’s going to grow like mad. If you have the talent I think you have, the chance you will have there to advance as a woman will be meteoric,” Gates recalled the hiring manager saying.

Gates joined Microsoft as a marketing manager and was the only woman and the youngest recruit in a team of 10. Among others, she developed multimedia products like Publisher, Microsoft Cinemania, Word, and Expedia.com at the company. In the early 90s, Gates was promoted to General Manager of Information Products at Microsoft.

Gates said that she was passionate about working at Microsoft. She said in her book The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World:

I loved the pulse, the electricity, of the place. Everyone was so passionate about what they were doing, and when they talked about their projects, I had a feeling I was seeing the future

Melinda Gates Net Worth: The Marriage of a Lifetime

Melinda met Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates at the PC Expo trade show in New York City about four months after she joined the company. The two shortly started dating and married in 1994. Melinda left Microsoft two years after her marriage to focus on her family.

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The couple have three children and were married for 27 years before Bill and Melinda Gates announced their divorce in 2021 in what was touted as among the most expensive divorces ever.

Even after Melinda left Microsoft, she continued to be associated with other ventures professionally and served on the Board of Trustees for Duke University from 1996 to 2003. In 1997, along with Bill Gates, she established the Gates Library Foundation (later renamed the Gates Learning Foundation) which laid the groundwork for the couple’s philanthropic work.

Launching the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The couple took yet another leap in their societal efforts when the William H. Gates Foundation merged with the Gates Learning Foundation to create the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. It is now the richest philanthropic organization globally and has helped support social causes in various countries. The Foundation’s mission “is to create a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life.”

According to the most recent data, the organization made 1,960 grants in 2022 with a total support of $7 billion. Global development and health causes were the two biggest areas the foundation supported in 2022. Despite their divorce, both Bill Gates and Melinda Gates remain co-chairs of the foundation.

On May 13, 2024, Melinda Gates announced on social media platforms that she would be stepping down from her role at the foundation. She wrote, “After careful thought and reflection, I have decided to resign from my role as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. My last day of work at the foundation will be June 7th.”

This is not a decision I came to lightly. I am immensely proud of the foundation that Bill and I built together and of the extraordinary work it is doing to address inequities around the world

Notably, Bill Gates along with Warren Buffett founded The Giving Pledge whose signatories – currently at 240 – have committed to donating the bulk of their wealth within their lifetime. The signatories are spread across 29 countries and among others including UK-based Indian “metal king” Anil Agarwal who has an estimated net worth of $6 billion.

Melinda Gates Net Worth: Starting Pivotal Ventures 

Along with her association with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as co-chair, Melinda Frech Gates also created Pivotal Ventures in 2015 which works towards accelerating the pace of social progress in the US. In 2019, Melinda committed $1 billion to help expand the power and influence of women in the US.

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“Pivotal Ventures expands opportunity and accelerates equality in the United States through high-impact investments, partnerships, and advocacy. We focus on areas where social progress has stalled — and where we can have the biggest impact,” says the organization’s website.

The Wall Street Journal reported in 2022 that Melinda is no longer committed to donating the bulk of her wealth to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and will instead split it across different philanthropic organizations – including Pivotal Ventures.

“I recognize the absurdity of so much wealth being concentrated in the hands of one person, and I believe the only responsible thing to do with a fortune this size is give it away — as thoughtfully and impactfully as possible,” said Gates in a letter in the WSJ report.

Melinda Gates Net Worth: Divorce Settlement

The Gates couple didn’t have any prenuptial agreement and there are varying estimates of how much the divorce settlement was actually valued at. However, what we know is that Melinda did not ask for any spousal support from her former husband.

The estimates for how many securities Bill’s investment vehicle, Cascade Investment, transferred to Melinda are quite wide and sometimes as high as $76 billion.

However, a more realistic estimate is around $6 billion. According to Forbes, Bill Gates transferred $6.3 billion to Melinda as part of the settlement.

In the announcement that she would be leaving the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, she said “Under the terms of my agreement with Bill, in leaving the foundation, I will have an additional $12.5 billion to commit to my work on behalf of women and families”. Although she would receive more cash, it won’t add to her net worth since she has stated her intent to use it for philanthropic works.

Melinda Gates Net Worth: Other Ventures

Apart from her association with multiple philanthropic causes, Melinda French Gates is engaged in a number of other ventures as well. In 2019, she wrote her book titled The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World.

She has received several awards and accolades over the years and has consistently ranked in the top 10 of Forbes’ list of Top 100 Most Powerful Women. Her rank, which peaked at number 3 in 2013, was 10th in the 2023 list. Here are some of the other awards that she has received:

  • In 2013, the Gates couple were awarded the Public Welfare Medal for their work in improving global health. The same year Melinda Gates was awarded the UCSF Medal which is the most prestigious award of the University of California, San Francisco.
  • In 2015, Bill and Melinda Gates were among the four foreigners who were conferred India’s third-highest civilian honor Padma Bhushan “for distinguished service of high order”. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has worked in several areas in India including promoting girls rights.
  • In 2017, then-US President Barack Obama awarded Melinda and Bill Gates the Presidential Medal of Freedom for their efforts in philanthropy.
  • In 2017, the Gates won the French Legion of Honor medal, which is the highest award in the country, for their charity efforts.

What Can We Learn From Melinda Gates’ Life?

There is a lot that we can learn from Melinda French Gates’s life, especially her work in philanthropy. Among others, she has been recently advocating “paid leave for all”.

“So if I have an extra dollar, or a thousand dollars, or a million dollars, or in my case, which is absurd, a billion dollars to plow back into making the world better for other people, that’s what I’m going to do,” said Gates.

Gates is also active in pushing for women’s empowerment and her Pivotal Ventures helps in driving funds to companies led by women entrepreneurs.

Melinda French Gates’ life is also a lesson in humility, simplicity, and selflessness. Despite being among the most powerful women globally and married to Bill Gates who was the world’s richest person between 1995 to 2017, she has been humble in her public interactions. More importantly, instead of spending her massive fortune on herself, she made it her mission to use her wealth for the greater good and has been an incredibly positive influence on the world.