Who is Ann Winblad?: All about Bill Gates' ex lover

By Ellen James May 07, 2021
Who is Ann Winblad?: All about Bill Gates' ex lover

Bill Gates was still in contact with ex Ann Winblad after marrying Melinda Gates.

Both Bill and Melinda decided to part ways after 27 years of marriage. They said that we "no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives" but "will continue our work together" at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Soon after the divorce was announced, Bill Gates' former flame, Winblad, resurfaced in the public eyes.

Winblad met Bill in 1997 at a computer conference a few years after which the pair began dating.

The couple used to have 'virtual dates' where they watched movies together from their respective cities. They even took trips together in the later stages of their relationship.

According to PEOPLE, Bill and Winblad split in 1987, the same year when Melinda joined Microsoft as a product manager. 

According to Time, the couple split because Winblad was not ready for marriage at the time. Regardless, Bill kept his former lover in his life, even after he married Melinda.

"Even now, Gates has an arrangement with his wife that he and Winblad can keep one vacation tradition alive," Walter Isaacson reported in the resurfaced story. "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."

"We can play putt-putt while discussing biotechnology," Gates said at the time. 

Added Winblad: "We share our thoughts about the world and ourselves. And we marvel about how, as two young overachievers, we began a great adventure on the fringes of a little-known industry and it landed us at the center of an amazing universe."

Before marrying Melinda, Bill Gates took special permission from Ann Winblad.

"When I was off on my own thinking about marrying Melinda, I called Ann and asked for her approval," he recalled to Time in the 1997 story.