- Michael Larson has served as Bill Gates’ money manager for decades.
- A New York Times report said Larson was accused of sexual harassment in 2017.
- The Times reported the handling of the situation put Bill and Melinda Gates at odds.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Michael Larson has managed Bill Gates’s fortune, which is worth nearly $130 billion, for decades.
Larson runs Gates’s secretive investment company, Cascade Investment, and manages Gates’s personal wealth as well as that of his charitable foundation. He was hired by Gates almost 30 years ago, when the Microsoft cofounder’s net worth was closer to $5 billion.
The New York Times reported Sunday that Larson became a point of contention between Gates and his wife, Melinda French Gates, after he was accused of sexual harassment in 2017.
The Times reported that a lawyer sent the Gateses a letter alleging Larson had been sexually harassing a woman who managed a bike shop. The shop was partially owned by Rally Capital, a firm that Cascade had invested in.
The letter requested help from the Gateses in addressing the situation with Larson and threatened legal action if they didn’t. Sources told The Times the woman reached a settlement in 2018 that included payment and a nondisclosure agreement.
French Gates hired a law firm to investigate the woman’s claims and the culture at Cascade, a time during which Larson was placed on leave. The outcome of the investigation was not clear, but Larson kept his job.
Larson could not be reached by Insider and did not respond to The Times.
The Times report also alleged Gates had pursued female employees and was dismissive of French Gates in work meetings at Microsoft. The high-profile couple announced earlier this month they would be separating after 27 years.
The man who makes Bill Gates richer
The Wall Street Journal profiled Larson in 2014, summarizing his job as to “make Bill Gates richer.”
In February of that year, Gates held a celebration at his mansion near Seattle in honor of Larson, who at that point had been working for Gates for 20 years.
“Melinda and I are free to pursue our vision of a healthier and better-educated world because of what Michael has done,” Gates said, according to The Journal.
He told the guests, who were asked to wear platinum or pink, Larson’s favorite color, that Larson had his “complete trust and faith.”
Larson, 61, has worked for Gates through Cascade since 1994. He is the chief investment officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gates’s personal investment portfolio.
He grew up in North Dakota and Albuquerque, and received an MBA from the University of Chicago, Fortune Magazine reported in 1999.
Gates’s assets and Larson’s investment strategy have largely been kept under wraps, but sources told The Journal Cascade produced consistent gains for Gates, with a compound annual return of 11% from 1995 to 2014.
Sources also told The Journal Gates and Larson mostly had a professional relationship and that they rarely interacted socially.
Gates has spent much of his wealth on his charitable foundation, as well as his $125-million Washington estate, a luxury-car collection, and a private plane.