Four Microsoft employees have accused founder Bill Gates of being an office 'bully' whose catchphrase was 'that's the stupidest f*****g idea I've ever heard' and claimed he pursued sexual affairs with employees and journalists.
Gates' reputation as a hot-tempered boss began not long after he launched tech giant Microsoft with childhood friend Paul Allen in 1975, Insider reported Tuesday. A spokesperson for the billionaire has denied he mistreated employees.
Gates, 65, came under scrutiny after he and Melinda Gates announced their divorce in May and reports emerged of his alleged extramarital affairs and concerns over the nature of his relationship with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
A former Microsoft executive who spoke on condition of anonymity told Insider that 'having a meeting with Bill was just an opportunity to get yelled at, so I tried to avoid that.'
Other sources who spoke to Insider described his catchphrase as 'That's the stupidest f**king idea I've ever heard' and said he was known for swearing at his employees.
Four Microsoft employees have accused founder Bill Gates of being an office 'bully' whose catchphrase was 'that's the stupidest f*****g idea I've ever heard' and claimed he pursued sexual affairs with employees and journalists. Gates is pictured in New York City in May
Bill Gates, left, is pictured with Jerrold Kaplan and Mitchell Kapor at an annual conference in Naples, Florida in 1988. Gates was allegedly often inebriated at tech events and after-parties and 'got drunk pretty easily'
Gates would allegedly track his employees by memorizing their license plates, according to the outlet.
Some Microsoft workers who spoke to the outlet, however, defended Gates with one saying he 'yelled at everyone the same' and that she appreciates his candor but conceded that his management style could intimidate some employees.
'He doesn't know how to joke really or how to connect with people,' said another former executive, who described solo meetings with Gates as awkward.
'If he told you he liked your hair, he wasn't trying to flirt with you. He just actually liked your hair.'
A current Microsoft employee told Insider: 'He's just an awkward human being as far as social interactions go.'
Maria Klawe, a former Microsoft board member from 2009 to 2015, said 'a person like Bill Gates thinks the usual rules of behavior don't apply to him' and accused him of being unreceptive to suggestions about improving diversity.
Klawe said that Gates behaved as if he was the 'smartest person in the room' and that diversity was not something Gates 'was interested in hearing about.'
She said that when female executives would suggest diversity initiatives, Gates would allegedly respond with: 'Are you trying to effing destroy the company?'
The spokesperson for Gates told Insider that Klawe's allegations are a 'gross mischaracterization.'
Gates' relationships and encounters with employees have long been a topic of discussion surrounding the billionaire, according to the outlet.
Maria Klawe, a former Microsoft board member from 2009 to 2015, right, said that 'a person like Bill Gates thinks the usual rules of behavior don't apply to him'
Klawe said that Gates behaved as if he was the 'smartest person in the room' and that diversity was not something Gates 'was interested in hearing about'
Melinda Gates herself was an employee at Microsoft, having been hired as a product manager in 1987, when the billionaire first asked her out months after flirting with her at a conference dinner.
In 2006, Bill Gates allegedly asked a female Microsoft employee out to dinner in an email after attending a presentation she had given, The New York Times reported.
'If this makes you uncomfortable, pretend it never happened,' Gates wrote in the email obtained by The New York Times.
A Gates Foundation employee told the outlet that the billionaire asked her on a date while they were at a cocktail party in New York.
'I want to see you. Will you have dinner with me?' Gates allegedly told the woman.
In the 1992 biography Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire, author James Wallace revealed Gates had an alleged affair with a married woman 13 years older than him when he was 27 years old.
Gates' alleged affair was with the wife of an Osborne Computer executive who lived abroad, according to the biography.
Melinda Gates herself, pictured, was an employee at Microsoft, having been hired as a product manager in 1987, when the billionaire first asked her out months after flirting with her
A photo shows Bill and Melinda Gates while they were dating before getting married
An Osborne Computer executive who knew about the alleged affair told Wallace that 'Bill had a real fondness for older women then.'
Adam Osborne, who developed the first commercially successful PC known as Osborne 1, allegedly demanded that Gates stop seeing the wife of his employee.
'Gates told Osborne to mind his own business,' Wallace wrote.
Gates himself told BBC that he would hack his school's scheduling software to ensure he would be the only boy in class.
'I was the one who benefited by being able to have the nice girls at least sit near me. It wasn't that I could talk to them or anything, but they were there,' Gates said.
Wallace told Insider that, while Gates attended Harvard University in 1973, he would allegedly visit strip clubs in an area of Boston once referred to as the Combat Zone because of its notorious strip clubs, porn theaters, and prostitution.
Gates had an alleged affair with a married woman 13 years older than him when he was 27 years old
Gates himself admitted to frequenting the area, centered on Washington Street between Boylston Street and Kneeland Street, in a 1994 interview he did with Playboy magazine.
'Just because I went there doesn't mean I engaged in everything that was going on,' Gates said.
'I ate pizza, read books and watched what was going on. I went to the diners.'
Wallace claimed to Insider that Gates' penchant for socializing with women remained even after he started dating Melinda Gates in 1987.
Gates was allegedly known to invite friends to swim naked at his bachelor pad in Laurelhurst where he 'rounded up' dancers from local all-nude nightclubs, Wallace said.
'I don't know if he physically transported them or if he just told them where to show up,' Wallace told the outlet.
Robert X. Cringely, who wrote a popular computer gossip column for InfoWorld, told Insider that Gates was allegedly often inebriated at tech events and after-parties and that he 'got drunk pretty easily.'
'All of us will have been at some affair where Bill was clearly impaired. He was happier' drunk, Cringely said.
Gates, then 33, took a helicopter to Les Arcs ski resort in the French Alps for an international sales meeting for Microsoft in the summer of 1988 where he was allegedly caught lying on top of a woman on the lawn.
The pair were 'just snuggling' after Gates joined his employees for drinks in a Swiss chalet and partied until the early morning, Dan Graves, a former Microsoft export manager, told Insider.
After he started dating Melinda, Gates allegedly struggled to commit to her and she was allegedly aware of his 'womanizing,' the outlet reported. The couple even broke up for at least a year early in their relationship.
'Bill wanted to be married, but he didn't know whether he could actually commit to it and have Microsoft,' Melinda said in an interview for the Netflix docuseries Inside Bill's Brain: Decoding Bill Gates.
Bill Gates is pictured in a 1977 police mugshot when he was arrested for bad careless driving in Albuqerque, New Mexico
Even after marrying Melinda, Gates told Time magazine in 1997 that he still went on annual vacations to the Outer Banks of North Carolina with his ex-girlfriend Ann Winblad, the software entrepreneur whom he had dated from 1984 to 1987.
Bill and Melinda Gates' personal affairs have been managed by Watermark Estate Management since at least 2001, which would allegedly arrange Gates' annual beach trips with Winblad.
Meanwhile, Gates is reported to have taken meetings with Epstein including a flight to Palm Beach on Epstein's private plane.
Gates' spokesperson told the outlet that Gates had 'absolutely no business partnership or personal friendship' with Epstein, and any meetings between the two were about philanthropy.
'It is extremely disappointing that there have been so many lies published about the cause, the circumstances and the timeline of Bill Gates's divorce,' the spokesperson said.
'The rumors and speculation surrounding Mr. Gates are becoming increasingly absurd and it's unfortunate that people who have little to no knowledge are being characterized as 'sources.''
Bill Gates, not pictured, still went on annual vacations to the Outer Banks of North Carolina with his ex-girlfriend Ann Winblad, pictured, the software entrepreneur whom he had dated from 1984 to 1987, even after marrying Melinda Gates
Bill Gates, and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, are pictured in 1987. Allen said in his memoir that Gates tried to dilute his equity in the company because he was 'unproductive' while dealing with his first bout of cancer
Gates' relationship with Epstein reportedly dates back to 2011, but it became a point of contention for the couple in September 2013, the Daily Beast reported.
Melinda Gates reportedly told friends she was furious about their alleged friendship and wanted nothing to do with Epstein but sources said Bill Gates allegedly visited Epstein's house numerous times.
Bill Gates even reportedly talked about his 'toxic' marriage to Epstein who allegedly gave Gates advice on ending his marriage, according to the Daily Beast.
Wallace claimed to Insider that 'there were some big-name journalists who knew about this behavior' over the years.
However, they 'never reported on it because they knew Microsoft would have taken away their access,' he said.
Gates allegedly even gained a reputation for hitting on female reporters who covered industry conferences such as Comdex, Wallace said.
'The journalists said that it was their understanding that they weren't the only ones either,' he added.
Stories about Gates have allegedly been kept quiet over the years but 'the halo broke' when Melinda divorced Gates, a Microsoft employee told Insider.
'Anyone who had stories could bring all those stories out,' the source said.