Bill Gates Explains Why You Won't See Him on List of World's Richest People

The Microsoft billionaire plans to give "virtually all" his wealth to the foundation he started with ex-wife Melinda.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, generational studies. Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read
James Martin/CNET

Few people can even dream of making the list of world's richest people. But Bill Gates has been there for decades, and his plan is to get off that list. He explained why and how in a Twitter thread shared on Wednesday.

"As I look to the future, I plan to give virtually all of my wealth to the foundation," Gates wrote, referring to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "I will move down and eventually off of the list of the world's richest people."

Gates went on to explain what he hopes to do, and how he hopes others will follow his lead.

"I have an obligation to return my resources to society in ways that have the greatest impact for reducing suffering and improving lives," he said. "And I hope others in positions of great wealth and privilege will step up in this moment too."

Gates said he's transferring $20 billion to the foundation's endowment this month. Gates and ex-wife Melinda founded it in 2000 in his hometown of Seattle, and it's now reported to be the second-largest foundation in the world. The foundation works in developing countries and in the United States to enhance health care and reduce extreme poverty.

Gates said the foundation will increase its spending from nearly $6 billion per year today to $9 billion per year by 2026.

He also praised his longtime friend and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett, saying that "basically half our resources have come from" Buffett.

"His incredible generosity is a huge reason why the foundation has been able to be so ambitious," Gates wrote. "I can never adequately express how much I appreciate his friendship and guidance."