More togetherness now for Bill and Melinda Gates
DAVOS, Switzerland -- Since Bill Gates left his full-time job at Microsoft Corp., his wife sees much more of him during the day -- but not because he's at home. They work in adjoining offices running the world's biggest philanthropic organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
"We have offices that are side-by-side now at the foundation," Melinda French Gates said. "That's really nice because we have a door that passes between them in the back. We can pop into each other's office."
They share ideas about foundation projects for the health and development of the poorest people in the world and to improve education in the United States.
And, put in Bill Gates, they travel -- sometimes together and sometimes apart -- as they look into the best ways to help the world's poorest people in remote corners of the globe.
They were together for a series of appearances and meetings at the World Economic Forum. Melinda Gates has come from Tanzania, where she was looking into work against malaria, and Ethiopia, where she was seeing what the foundation can do to help make 3,000 new rural health centers more effective.
He's been in Belgium checking on progress toward a malaria vaccine. After Davos, he heads to Nigeria for a couple of days to encourage immunization against polio in one of the world's most affected countries. He visited the other, India, several months ago. He's convinced the world can wipe out the disease with a little more effort.
The couple, sitting next to each other, looked relaxed during an interview Friday with The Associated Press at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos. They alternate in answering questions, picking up where the other leaves off.
"It's my full-time job," said the co-founder of Microsoft who left his full-time job at the software giant last July amid concerns from friends that he wouldn't find his new role as engaging or rewarding. "Even though I loved my old one a lot, this one's every bit as good."
He said he was "maniacally" devoted to developing software aimed at making computers cheap and available for everyone.
Melinda Gates is heading back home to Seattle to be with the couple's children -- Jennifer, 12, Rory, 9, and Phoebe, 6 -- the major constraint on their travel.
"We have three young kids, so we're obviously very committed to being in Seattle and being there when they're in school, and then they travel with us quite a bit to," she said. "They're too young to get involved in the foundation. That will be still yet to come."