Bill Gates Goes on a Yearly Beach Vacation with Ex, Ann Winblad

Since the announcement of Bill and Melinda Gates’ divorce after 27 years of marriage, many speculation surfaces are being considered as the reason for the separation. One particularly curious detail about the tech billionaire’s union gained interest today after a 1997 Time profile resurfaced. Discussed with depth was his relationship with longtime ex-girlfriend Ann Winblad. It included the extent to which they maintained a close relationship after his marriage to Melinda. 

The exes, Gates and Winblad, went on to spend a long weekend on the beach together once every year, even after he married Melinda in 1994. It appears to have been an agreed-upon arrangement with Melinda, per the article written by Walter Isaacson.

“Another of Gates’ vacation companions is Ann Winblad, the software entrepreneur and venture capitalist he dated during the 1980s. They met in 1984 at a Ben Rosen-Esther Dyson computer conference. They started going on ‘virtual dates’ by driving to the same movie simultaneously in different cities and discussing it on their cell phones. For a few years, she even persuaded him to stop eating meat, an experiment he has since resolutely abandoned.” Isaacson wrote.

“They broke up in 1987, partly because Winblad, five years older, was more ready for marriage. But they remain close friends. ‘When I was off on my own thinking about marrying Melinda, I called Ann and asked for her approval. I said she’d be a good match for him because she had intellectual stamina.’ said Gates. She gave it. Even now, Gates has an arrangement with his wife that he and Winblad can keep one vacation tradition alive. Every spring, as they have for more than a decade, Gates spends a long weekend with Winblad at her beach cottage on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where they ride dune buggies, hang-glide and walk on the beach.” Said the article.

This 1997 Time profile of Bill Gates is gathering a lot of interest as the high-profile divorce of one of the world’s power couples became public. No details were released on the separation agreement, but it was reported that there was no prenuptial agreement, and they will divide the assets based on the separation agreement.