San Francisco, March 14 (IANS) Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has stepped down from Microsoft's board of directors -- another step back from the tech giant he founded 45 years ago to dedicate more time to his philanthropic priorities.
Gates who co-founded Microsoft in 1975 with Paul Allen will continue to serve as Technology Advisor to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and other leaders in the company.
"It's been a tremendous honour and privilege to have worked with and learned from Bill over the years. Bill founded our company with a belief in the democratizing force of software and a passion to solve society's most pressing challenges. And Microsoft and the world are better for it," Nadella said in a statement late Friday.
"Microsoft will continue to benefit from Bill's ongoing technical passion and advice to drive our products and services forward," he added.
On June 27, 2008, Gates, who is now 64 with a net worth of over $100 billion, transitioned out of a day-to-day role in the company to spend more time on his work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
He served as Microsoft's chairman of the board until February 4, 2014.
"With respect to Microsoft, stepping down from the board in no way means stepping away from the company," Gates said.
"Microsoft will always be an important part of my life's work and I will continue to be engaged with Satya and the technical leadership to help shape the vision and achieve the company's ambitious goals. I feel more optimistic than ever about the progress the company is making and how it can continue to benefit the world," he added.
With Gates' departure, the Microsoft board will consist of 12 members.
"As a member of the board, Gates challenged us to think big and think even bigger. He leaves an enduring legacy of curiosity and insight that serves as an inspiration for us all," said John W. Thompson, Microsoft independent board chair.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last month announced that it would immediately commit up to $100 million for the global response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
A significant portion of the commitment that the foundation made is focused particularly on developing countries, Gates said in a blog post.
Saying that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has started to behave a lot like the once-in-a-century pathogen the world has been worried about, Gates has called upon donor governments to help low- and middle-income countries prepare for this "pandemic", in addition to helping their own citizens respond.
"By helping countries in Africa and South Asia get ready now, we can save lives and also slow the global circulation of the virus," the Microsoft co-founder emphasized.