Bill Gates Net Worth 2022 (Forbes) – How Did He Get Rich? Exposed!

Bill Gates Net Worth

Bill Gates has an estimated net worth of $124.1 billion. He founded the world’s largest software business, Microsoft, with Paul Allen, and subsequently became one of the richest men in the world. He earned the majority of his income from Microsoft.

Bill Gates, an entrepreneur and businessman, and his business partner Paul Allen founded and built Microsoft, the world’s largest software company, through technological innovation, astute business strategy, and aggressive business tactics. In the process, Gates became one of the world’s wealthiest men. Gates announced in February 2014 that he was stepping down as chairman of Microsoft to focus on charitable work at his foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

To calculate the net worth of Bill Gates, subtract all his liabilities from his total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity he has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts, such as loans and personal debt, are included in total liabilities.

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:

Name: Bill Gates
Net Worth: $124.1 Billion
Monthly Salary: $500 Million+
Annual Income: $6 Billion+
Source of Wealth: Entrepreneur, Programmer, Businessperson, Investor, Software Architect

Early Life

On October 28, 1955, in Seattle, Washington, William Henry Gates III was born. Gates grew up with his older sister, Kristianne, and younger sister, Libby, in an upper-middle-class family. When their father, William H. Gates Sr., met his future wife, Mary Maxwell, he was a promising, if somewhat shy, law student. She was an athletic, outgoing University of Washington student who was heavily involved in student affairs and leadership.

The Gates family was close and warm, and all three children were encouraged to be competitive and strive for excellence.

Gates displayed early signs of competitiveness by organizing family athletic games at their summer home on Puget Sound. He also enjoyed playing board games (his favorite was Risk) and was an expert at Monopoly.

Gates had a close relationship with his mother, Mary, who, after a brief career as a teacher, devoted her time to raising children, civic affairs, and charitable work. She also served on the boards of the First Interstate Bank of Seattle (founded by her grandfather), the United Way, and International Business Machines (IBM). She frequently brought Gates with her when she volunteered in schools and at community organizations.

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As a child, Gates was an avid reader, spending many hours poring over reference books such as encyclopedias. Gates’ parents began to worry about his behavior when he was about 11 or 12. His grades were good, but he seemed bored and withdrawn at times, and his parents were concerned that he would become a loner.

Despite their strong belief in public education, Gates’ parents enrolled him at Seattle’s exclusive preparatory Lakeside School when he was 13 years old. He excelled in nearly all of his subjects, particularly math and science, but also drama and English.

A Seattle computer company offered to provide computer time for the students at Lakeside School. The Mother’s Club purchased a teletype terminal for students to use with proceeds from the school’s rummage sale. Gates became fascinated by what a computer could accomplish and spent much of his spare time working on the terminal. He created a tic-tac-toe program in the BASIC programming language that allowed users to compete against the computer.

Gates graduated from Lakeside High School in 1973. He received a college SAT score of 1590 out of 1600, a feat of intellectual achievement that he boasted about for several years when meeting new people.

Harvard Dropout

In the fall of 1973, Gates enrolled at Harvard University, intending to pursue a career in law. Gates dropped out of college in 1975, much to his parents’ dismay, to pursue his business, Microsoft, with partner Allen.

Gates spent more time in the computer lab than he did in class. He didn’t have a study routine; he got by on a few hours of sleep, crammed for a test, and passed with a passing grade.

Meeting and Partnering With Paul Allen

Gates met Allen in high school at Lakeside School, where he was two years his senior. Despite their differences, the pair became fast friends, bonding over their shared love of computers. Allen was quieter and more reserved. Gates was fiery and combative at times.

Despite their differences, Allen and Gates spent much of their free time working on programs together. They occasionally disagreed and fought over who was right or who should run the computer lab. On one occasion, their disagreement became so heated that Allen barred Gates from the computer lab.

At one point, Gates and Allen’s school computer privileges were revoked for exploiting software flaws to obtain free computer time from the company that supplied the computers. They were allowed back into the computer lab after their probation when they offered to debug the program. During this time, Gates created a payroll program for the computer company the boys had hacked into, as well as a school scheduling program.

At the age of 15, Gates and Allen formed a partnership and created “Traf-o-Data,” a computer program that tracked traffic patterns in Seattle. They earned a total of $20,000 for their efforts. Gates and Allen wanted to start their own business, but Gates’ parents wanted him to finish high school and attend college, where he hoped to become a lawyer.

Allen attended Washington State University, while Gates attended Harvard, but the two remained in touch. Allen dropped out of college after two years and relocated to Boston, Massachusetts, to work for Honeywell. Around this time, he showed Gates a copy of Popular Electronics with an article about the Altair 8800 mini-computer kit. Both young men were enthralled by the possibilities of what this computer could accomplish in the world of personal computing.

Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems, a small company in Albuquerque, New Mexico, created the Altair (MITS). Gates and Allen contacted the company, claiming to be working on a BASIC software program to run the Altair computer. They didn’t actually have an Altair or the code to run it, but they wanted to know if MITS was interested in someone developing such software.

MITS was, and its president, Ed Roberts, invited the boys to a protest. Gates and Allen scrambled, spending the next two months at Harvard’s computer lab writing BASIC software. Allen traveled to Albuquerque for a test run at MITS, having never used an Altair computer before. It worked flawlessly. When Allen was hired at MITS, Gates quickly left Harvard to work with him. They co-founded Microsoft.

Allen worked for Microsoft until 1983, when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Allen resigned from the company despite the fact that his cancer had gone into remission after a year of intensive treatment. There are numerous theories as to why Allen left Microsoft. Some say Gates forced him out, but many say it was a life-changing experience for Allen, and he saw other opportunities in which he could invest his time.

Founding Microsoft

In 1975, Gates and Allen founded Micro-Soft, a combination of the terms “microcomputer” and “software” (they dropped the hyphen within a year). The first product of the company was BASIC software for the Altair computer.

At first, things were not going well. Although Microsoft’s BASIC software program for the Altair computer paid a fee and royalties, it did not cover the company’s overhead. According to Gates’ later account, only about 10% of those using BASIC on the Altair computer paid for it.

Microsoft’s BASIC software was popular among computer hobbyists, who obtained pre-production copies and distributed them for free. Many computer enthusiasts at the time were not motivated by monetary gain. They felt that because of the ease of reproduction and distribution, they could share software with friends and fellow computer enthusiasts. Gates had a different viewpoint. He considered free software distribution to be stealing, especially when it involved software designed to be sold.

In an open letter to computer hobbyists in February 1976, Gates stated that continued distribution and use of software without payment would “prevent good software from being written.” In essence, software piracy discourages developers from investing time and money in developing high-quality software. The letter was unpopular among computer enthusiasts, but Gates remained firm in his beliefs and used the threat of innovation as a defense when accused of unfair business practices.

Gates had a fractious relationship with MITS president Ed Roberts, which frequently resulted in shouting matches. On software development and business direction, the combative Gates clashed with Roberts. Gates was considered spoiled and obnoxious by Roberts.

Roberts sold MITS to another computer company in 1977 and returned to Georgia to attend medical school and become a doctor.

Allen and Gates were on their own. To keep the software rights they had developed for Altair, the pair had to sue the new owner of MITS. Microsoft created software in various formats for other computer companies, and Gates relocated the company’s headquarters to Bellevue, Washington, just east of Seattle, in early 1979.

Gates was relieved to be back in the Pacific Northwest, and he threw himself into his work. The young company’s 25 employees were all given broad responsibilities for all aspects of operation, product development, business development, and marketing.

Although the company began on shaky ground, by 1979, Microsoft was earning around $2.5 million. At the age of 23, Gates assumed control of the company. He led the company and served as its spokesperson, owing to his expertise in software development and keen business sense. Gates personally reviewed every line of code shipped by the company, frequently rewriting code himself when deemed necessary.

Microsoft’s Software for IBM PCs

As the computer industry expanded, with companies such as Apple, Intel, and IBM developing hardware and components, Gates was constantly on the road promoting the benefits of Microsoft software applications. He frequently accompanied his mother. Mary was well-known and respected for her service on several corporate boards, including IBM’s. It was through Mary that Gates met IBM’s CEO.

In November 1980, IBM approached Microsoft in search of software to power their upcoming personal computer (PC). According to legend, during his first meeting with Gates, someone at IBM mistook him for an office assistant and asked him to serve coffee.

Although Gates appeared to be a young man, he quickly won over IBM by convincing them that he and his company could meet their needs. The only issue was that Microsoft had not created the basic operating system required to run IBM’s new computers.

Not to be deterred, Gates purchased an operating system designed to run on computers similar to IBM’s PC. He struck a deal with the software’s developer, making Microsoft the exclusive licensing agent and, later, full owner of the software, while keeping the IBM deal hidden from them.

Later, the company sued Microsoft and Gates for withholding critical information. Microsoft reached an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed sum, but neither Gates nor Microsoft admitted any wrongdoing.

Gates had to modify the newly purchased software to make it work with the IBM PC. He delivered it for $50,000, the same price he had paid for the original software. IBM wanted to purchase the source code, which would have provided them with access to the operating system.

Instead, Gates proposed that IBM pay a licensing fee for copies of the software sold with their computers. This allowed Microsoft to license the software known as MS-DOS to any other PC manufacturer in the event that other computer companies cloned the IBM PC, which they quickly did. Microsoft also released Softcard software, which allowed Microsoft BASIC to run on Apple II computers.

Microsoft’s growth exploded between 1979 and 1981, following the development of software for IBM. The number of employees increased from 25 to 128, and revenue increased from $2.5 million to $16 million. Gates and Allen formed Microsoft in mid-1981, and Gates was named president and chairman of the board. Allen has been promoted to executive vice president.

By 1983, Microsoft had gone global, with offices in the United Kingdom and Japan. Its software was used by an estimated 30% of the world’s computers.

Rivalry With Steve Jobs

Despite their legendary rivalry, Microsoft and Apple shared many of their early innovations. Apple, then led by Steve Jobs, invited Microsoft to help develop software for Macintosh computers in 1981. Some developers worked on both Microsoft development and Microsoft applications for the Macintosh. Some shared names between the Microsoft and Macintosh systems revealed the collaboration.

Microsoft developed Windows, a system that used a mouse to drive a graphic interface, displaying text and images on the screen, as a result of this knowledge sharing. This was in stark contrast to the text-and-keyboard-driven MS-DOS system, where all text formatting appeared on the screen as code rather than what would be printed.

Gates quickly recognized the threat that this type of software could pose to MS-DOS and Microsoft in general. The graphic imagery of the competing VisiCorp software used in a Macintosh system would be much easier to use for the unsophisticated user, which was the majority of the buying public.

Gates announced in an advertising campaign that a new Microsoft operating system with a graphical user interface was on the way. It was to be known as “Windows,” and it would be compatible with all PC software developed on the MS-DOS platform. The announcement was a ruse, as Microsoft had no such program in the works.

It was a brilliant marketing strategy. Nearly 30% of the computer market was still using the MS-DOS operating system and would rather wait for Windows software than switch to a new system. Because there were no people willing to change formats, software developers were hesitant to write programs for the VisiCorp system, and it died out by early 1985.

Gates and Microsoft released Windows in November 1985, nearly two years after his announcement. Visually, the Windows system resembled the Macintosh system introduced nearly two years earlier by Apple Computer Corporation.

Apple previously granted Microsoft complete access to their technology while it worked to make Microsoft products compatible with Apple computers. Gates advised Apple to license their software, but they ignored his advice, preferring to sell computers.

Once again, Gates capitalized on the situation by developing a software format that was strikingly similar to the Macintosh. Apple threatened to sue, and Microsoft responded by postponing the release of Microsoft-compatible software for Macintosh users.

In the end, Microsoft won the legal battle. It could demonstrate that, while the two software systems operated similarly, each individual function was distinct.

A Competitive Reputation

Despite Microsoft’s success, Gates never felt completely secure. Gates developed a white-hot drive and competitive spirit by constantly looking over his shoulder at the competition. When Gates’ assistant arrived at work early, she discovered someone sleeping under a desk. She was about to call security or the police when she realized it was Gates.

Because of his intelligence, Gates was able to see all aspects of the software industry, from product development to corporate strategy. When analyzing any corporate move, he created a profile of all possible scenarios and ran them through, asking questions about anything that could happen.

He expected everyone in the company to be equally committed.

His confrontational management style became legendary, as he would challenge employees and their ideas in order to maintain the creative process.

Gates could say, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!” to an unprepared presenter.

This was as much a test of the employee’s rigor as it was of Gates’ passion for his company. He was constantly assessing whether the people around him were truly convinced of their ideas.

Microsoft Office and Anti-Competition Lawsuits

Outside of the company, Gates was known as a ruthless competitor. Several technology companies, led by IBM, began developing their own operating system, OS/2, to replace MS-DOS. Instead of caving in to pressure, Gates pushed ahead with the Windows software, improving its operation and expanding its applications.

Microsoft Office was introduced in 1989, and it bundled office productivity applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel into a single system that was compatible with all Microsoft products.

The applications did not work as well with OS/2. In just two weeks, Microsoft’s new version of Windows sold 100,000 copies, and OS/2 faded away. This effectively gave Microsoft a monopoly on PC operating systems. The Federal Trade Commission soon began an investigation into Microsoft’s unfair marketing practices.

Throughout the 1990s, Microsoft was the subject of numerous FTC and Justice Department investigations. Some allegations have surfaced that Microsoft made unfair deals with computer manufacturers who installed the Windows operating system on their machines. Other charges alleged that Microsoft forced computer manufacturers to sell Microsoft’s Internet Explorer in exchange for selling the Windows operating system with their computers.

Microsoft was considering splitting its two divisions — operating systems and software development — at one point. Microsoft defended itself, citing Gates’ previous battles with software piracy and declaring that such restrictions harmed innovation. Microsoft was eventually able to reach an agreement with the federal government and avoid a breakup.

Throughout it all, Gates found creative ways to relieve stress, such as lighthearted commercials and public appearances at computer trade shows in which he posed as Star Trek’s Mr. Spock. Throughout the 1990s, Gates ran the company while dealing with federal investigations.

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Leaving Microsoft

In 2000, Gates stepped down from day-to-day operations at Microsoft, handing over the CEO position to a college friend, Steve Ballmer, who had worked for the company since 1980. Though he remained chairman of the board, Gates positioned himself as chief software architect in order to focus on what was for him the more passionate side of the business.

Gates announced in 2006 that he would be leaving Microsoft full-time to devote more time to the foundation. On June 27, 2008, he worked his final full day at Microsoft.

Gates resigned as chairman of Microsoft in February 2014 to take on a new role as a technology adviser. Satya Nadella, 46, took over as CEO of Microsoft after Steve Ballmer stepped down.

Personal Life

Melinda French, a 23-year-old Microsoft product manager, caught Gates’ attention in 1987. Melinda, who was bright and organized, was an ideal match for Gates. Their relationship grew over time as they discovered an intimate and intellectual connection. Melinda and Bill Gates married in Hawaii on January 1, 1994.

After his mother died of breast cancer just a few months after their wedding, they took some time off in 1995 to travel and gain a new perspective on life and the world. Jennifer, their first child, was born in 1996. Rory, their son, was born in 1999, and Phoebe, their second daughter, was born in 2002.

The couple announced their divorce in May 2021.

Personal Wealth

In March 1986, Gates took Microsoft public with an IPO of $21 per share, making him an instant millionaire at the age of 31. Gates owned 45 percent of the company’s 24.7 million shares, amounting to $234 million of Microsoft’s $520 million at the time.

The company’s stock increased in value and split numerous times over time. When the stock reached $90.75 per share in 1987, Gates became a billionaire. Since then, Gates has been at or near the top of Forbes’ annual list of America’s top 400 wealthiest people. Gates’ wealth briefly surpassed $101 billion in 1999, when stock prices were at an all-time high and the stock had split eight-fold since its IPO.


Gates and his family moved into a 55,000-square-foot house on Lake Washington’s shore in 1997. Despite its use as a business center, the house is said to be very comfortable for the couple and their three children.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill and Melinda Gates established the William H. Gates Foundation in 1994 to support education, global health, and investment in low-income communities around the world. The organization also addresses domestic issues, such as assisting US students in becoming college-ready.

Bill had become interested in becoming a civic leader in the footsteps of his mother, studying the philanthropic work of American industrial titans Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, thanks to Melinda’s influence. He realized he owed it to charity to give more of his wealth.

In 2000, the couple merged several family foundations and contributed $28 billion to establish the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill’s involvement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation occupied much of his time and even more of his interest over the next few years.

Gates has devoted much of his time and energy since leaving Microsoft to the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Gates advocated for national Common Core standards in grades K through 12 and charter schools in 2015. Around the same time, the Gates Foundation announced that it would provide its employees with a year of paid leave following the birth or adoption of a child.

In 2017, the foundation released the first of what would become its annual “Goalkeepers” report, which examined progress in several key areas of public health, including child mortality, malnutrition, and HIV. At the time, Gates identified infectious and chronic disease as the two most pressing public health issues to be addressed in the coming decade.

Gates announced in April 2018 that he was teaming up with Google co-founder Larry Page to provide $12 million in funding for a universal flu vaccine. He stated that the funds would be awarded in grants of up to $2 million for “bold and innovative” efforts aimed at starting clinical trials by 2021. Although some questioned whether $12 million would be enough to spark a true medical breakthrough, others praised the investment’s intentions, and Gates hinted that more could be forthcoming.

Alzheimer’s Research

In November 2017, Gates revealed that he was putting $50 million of his own money into the Dementia Discovery Fund. He would then contribute another $50 million to Alzheimer’s research start-ups. It was said to be a personal matter for Gates, who has witnessed the disease’s devastating effects on his own family members.

“Any type of treatment would be a huge step forward from where we are now,” he told CNN, adding that “the long-term goal has to be cure.”

Building a ‘Smart City’ in Arizona

It was revealed in 2017 that one of Gates’ companies had invested $80 million in the development of a “smart city” near Phoenix, Arizona. According to the Belmont Partners real estate investment group, the proposed city will “create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs.”

It was reported that 3,800 acres of the nearly 25,000 acres of land designated for the site will be used for office, commercial, and retail space. Another 470 acres will be dedicated to public schools, leaving room for 80,000 new homes.


After warning for years that the world was not prepared for the next pandemic, Gates’ dire predictions came true with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in 2020. In March, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joined forces with the Wellcome Trust and Mastercard to pledge $125 million toward efforts to contain the outbreak, and Gates later revealed that his foundation was willing to invest billions of dollars in the construction of factories dedicated to the development of a vaccine.


Gates has received numerous philanthropic awards. Gates was named one of the most influential people of the twentieth century by Time magazine. The magazine also named Gates and his wife Melinda, as well as the lead singer of the rock band U2, Bono, as the 2005 Persons of the Year.

Gates has received several honorary doctorates from universities around the world. In 2005, Queen Elizabeth II knighted him as an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

The Mexican government awarded Gates and his wife the Order of the Aztec Eagle in 2006 for their global philanthropic work in health and education.

President Barack Obama awarded the couple the Presidential Medal of Freedom for their philanthropic efforts again in 2016.

Lessons From Bill Gates

Gates’s determination is legendary. Most senior managers know that they may have to choose between being well liked and less successful or well respected and capable of developing companies with dominant positions.

  • Be prepared to take any steps that will improve your market domination—including litigation.
  • Accept that your true aim is to be as near to a monopoly as you can and the law allows.
  • When you’ve established a dominant position, pull out all the stops to defend it. Keep pushing or your dominance will crumble.

Favorite Bill Gates Quotes

Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.

Bill Gates


It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.

Bill Gates


The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.

Bill Gates


If you can’t make it good, at least make it look good.

Bill Gates


The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.

Bill Gates


We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.

Bill Gates


We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.

Bill Gates


Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.

Bill Gates


Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without the talking about the other.

Bill Gates


If you go back to 1800, everybody was poor. I mean everybody. The Industrial Revolution kicked in, and a lot of countries benefited, but by no means everyone.

Bill Gates


Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.

Bill Gates


I think it’s fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tool we’ve ever created. They’re tools of communication, they’re tools of creativity, and they can be shaped by their user.

Bill Gates


As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.

Bill Gates

View our larger collection of the best Bill Gates quotes.

Further Reading

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How To Become Rich Like Bill Gates?

Bill Gates did not become rich by luck. To become as rich as Bill Gates, you have to work smart.

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