Bill Gates: net worth and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation explained - where is he on world’s rich list 2022?

The Microsoft co-founder has said he has an ‘obligation’ to give his vast wealth back to society

For 15 years between 1995 and 2010, Bill Gates was considered to be the richest person on Earth.

While that title is now held by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, Mr Gates still has a net worth that’s larger than those of other high-profile billionaires, like Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg.

But the Microsoft co-founder has now vowed to radically reduce his wealth by increasing donations to his charity - the Gates Foundation.

Bill Gates says he intends to give away most of vast fortune (image: Getty Images)

So what is Bill Gates’ net worth - and how much money does he want to give to his foundation?

Here’s everything you need to know.

Who is Bill Gates?

Bill Gates, 66, is an American entrepreneur and philanthropist.

He is best known as being the co-founder of Microsoft - a leading IT software company he set up with his school friend Paul Allen in 1975.

Famous for its Windows operating system, it revolutionised computer technology and remains the world’s most used brand for laptop and desktop operating systems.

Bill Gates co-founded Microsoft in 1975 (image: AFP/Getty Images)

What is Bill Gates’ net worth?

According to Forbes, Bill Gates is currently worth $102 billion (£86 billion), making him the fourth richest person on the global rich list 2022.

Most of this money has either come from or is tied to his Microsoft stake.

In 2020, he was believed to have held 1% of the business’s shares.

While having a reputation for not being someone who readily splashes money on luxuries, Mr Gates is known to own real-estate worth almost $200 million, a private jet, and an extensive luxury car collection.

What is the Gates Foundation?

In 2000, Bill Gates and his now ex-wife Melinda set up the Gates Foundation - a charitable trust that aims to eradicate infectious diseases and reduce global poverty.

On the organisation’s website, the pair state they want to “give back and be optimistic about the future”.

Over the last 22 years Mr Gates has donated nearly $57 billion to the charity, including a $20 billion (£17 billion) gift he announced he would make in July 2022.

Most of his early donations were gifts of Microsoft stock.

Despite his divorce from Melinda in 2021, the former couple have vowed to continue running the foundation together.

Bill Gates now spends much of his time lobbying global leaders to eradicate disease and poverty (image: Getty Images)

How will Bill Gates give his wealth away?

On Wednesday (13 July), Bill Gates revealed on Twitter that he plans to give almost all of his wealth to his foundation.

He said the move would result in him moving “down and eventually off of the list of the world’s richest people”.

“I have an obligation to return my resources to society in ways that have the greatest impact for reducing suffering and improving lives,” the billionaire said.

“And I hope others in positions of great wealth and privilege will step up in this moment too.”

Mr Gates cited the war in Ukraine, climate change and recent US Supreme Court judgements restricting women’s rights as reasons behind his decision.

However, he insisted he remains “optimistic” about the future.

“These setbacks are happening in the context of two decades’ worth of historic progress and I believe it is possible to mitigate the damage and get back to the progress the world was making,” he said.

As well as announcing his intention to drastically cut back his own net worth, Bill Gates also said the Gates Foundation would aim to up its spending from almost $6 billion (£5 billion) to $9 billion (£7.6 billion).

If he achieves this goal, it would mean the charity would have an annual spend equating to 75% of how much the UK currently spends on foreign aid each year (£11.5 billion).

It is not the first time Bill Gates has said he will give away his vast fortune, having made a similar pledge in 2010.