Bill Gates at the 2019 New Economy Forum on November 21, 2019 in Beijing, China. Photo: Hou Yu/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

Microsoft's Bill Gates stepped down from the company's board of directors on Friday to focus on philanthropy in arenas like global health and education.

The big picture: It's been a slow, long exit for Gates who has devoted more of his time to humanitarian efforts for more than a decade. He handed over the CEO reins 20 years ago and left full-time employment with the company more than a decade ago.

  • Gates will continue to advise CEO Satya Nadella and other Microsoft leaders, the company said Friday.
  • He announced in 2006 that he would leave full-time Microsoft employment as of July 2008.

Our thought bubble: Though Gates has stepped away from most of his duties at Microsoft, he has remained an advisor on key projects, strategic direction and is a major shareholder.

What they're saying:

“The board has benefited from Bill’s leadership and vision. And Microsoft will continue to benefit from Bill’s ongoing technical passion and advice to drive our products and services forward. I am grateful for Bill’s friendship and look forward to continuing to work alongside him to realize our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more."
— Satya Nadella said Friday

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