Does Bill Gates own Microsoft?

Bill's baby: but Gates doesn't own Microsoft (Image by efes from Pixabay)

The short answer is no. In fact, Bill Gates now has less influence over Microsoft than at any time during the company’s history.

Bill Gates founded Microsoft with Paul Allen in 1975. He served as the company’s chairman and CEO until 2000, when he relinquished the CEO role, but continued as chairman of the board until 2014. He stepped off the board completely in 2020, meaning he has no official role at the company he founded – although he does retain a financial stake in the firm.

How much of Microsoft does Bill Gates own?

According to this Forbes report, Gates owned around 1% of Microsoft’s shares when he stepped down from the board of directors in March 2020.

That obviously gives him very little direct influence over the direction of the company. At the time of writing in November 2021, that modest stake didn’t put Gates in the top 10 owners of the company. The biggest shareholder, The Vanguard Group, held around 8% of the stock in the company, for example.

That’s not to say that Gates isn’t a phenomenally wealthy man. Forbes calculated his net worth at $137bn in Match 2021, which placed him at no.4 in the world rich list.

Gates now spends most of his time – and not a small amount of his wealth – at The Gates Foundation, the charity he set up with his now ex-wife Melinda. It’s worth noting that Gates has donated more than $35 billion worth of Microsoft stock to The Gates Foundation over the years, which has reduced his stake in the company.

However, the next time your Windows PC crashes or Microsoft Word fails to save one of your documents, there really isn’t much point firing up Twitter and sending an angry tweet to @BillGates – he doesn’t work there anymore and really has very little influence at all.

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at

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