But, let’s think about something interesting: What if he didn’t sell his Microsoft shares, meaning he held onto them even when the market was unpredictable? Some people use the term “diamond-handed” to describe this.
There’s a thought that if Gates had done this, he could be even richer than he is now. An article from 2021 brings up this idea: What if Gates kept his first Microsoft shares? Could he have become even wealthier than today’s richest people, like Elon Musk from Tesla and Jeff Bezos from Amazon, and reached trillionaire status?
From IPO to Trillion-Dollar Potential
The story starts with Microsoft going public in 1986, where Bill Gates owned 49% of the company. After the initial public offering (IPO), his ownership decreased a bit to 45%. Now, Microsoft is worth around $2.805 trillion. If Gates had kept his 45% ownership, it would be worth $1.23 trillion today, which is way more than what Musk and Bezos are worth.
Microsoft’s path to becoming a trillion-dollar giant shows how resilient and innovative it has been in the tech world. Bill Gates’ vision and leadership in the early years played a crucial role in this success. In 1999, Microsoft’s value exceeded $500 billion, and Gates still owned around 20% of the company. If he had held onto those shares, they would be worth over $500 billion today.
Nevertheless, Bill Gates has taken a notably different approach to his wealth. Currently, he owns a 1.38% share in Microsoft, totaling 103 million shares. This substantial decrease from his initial post-IPO ownership signals a deliberate change in his investment strategy. Over time, Gates has spread his investments across various assets, moving away from concentrating wealth mainly in Microsoft.
‘Bill Gates’ From Riches to Giving Back
As of November, his net worth is estimated at $116 billion, with a significant portion coming from his Microsoft shares, both directly and indirectly. Approximately 20.28% of his public holdings are in Berkshire Hathaway Inc., a conglomerate led by his close friend and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett.
Despite Gates’s wealth not reaching its potential trillion-dollar level, it still stands as enormous. In 1999, his wealth was nearly three times greater than Buffett’s, who was the second-richest person at that time. During that year, Gates’s fortune surpassed the $100 billion mark, a milestone that Buffett achieved much later, with a valuation of around $36 billion in 1999.
Gates’s choice to diversify his investments and decrease his ownership in Microsoft over time mirrors a larger pattern among the ultra-rich to lessen risk and explore new opportunities.
Although this strategy might have prevented him from becoming the world’s first trillionaire, it showcases a more balanced approach to managing wealth. This decision also paved the way for his extensive philanthropic work, solidifying his legacy not only as a tech mogul but also as a global humanitarian.
Looking at what could have been, it’s clear that Gates’s impact on the world goes beyond Microsoft and the hypotheticals of his net worth. His transformation from a tech visionary to a diversified investor and philanthropist stands as proof of the diverse nature of his influence.
Gates has not just influenced the tech industry but has also made notable contributions to global health and education through his philanthropy. His journey illustrates how an individual’s impact can be deep and diverse, extending beyond financial success to create a lasting mark in various sectors around the world.
Bill Gates’ journey from Microsoft’s IPO to his current diversified investments and philanthropy reveals a unique path. While contemplating what could have been in terms of wealth, his strategic choices showcase a more balanced approach. From tech mogul to global humanitarian, Gates leaves a diverse and lasting impact beyond financial success.