Meet Michael Larson, the man who has managed Bill Gates' fortune for decades and was reportedly accused of sexual harassment in 2017

·3 min read
Michael Larson wearing a hot pink polo and a jacket
Michael Larson, a business manager for Cascade Investment, at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference on July 10, 2014. Scott Olson/Getty Images
  • Michael Larson has served as Bill Gates' money manager for decades.

  • A New York Times report on Sunday said Larson had been accused of sexual harassment in 2017.

  • The Times reported that the handling of the situation had put Bill and Melinda Gates at odds.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Michael Larson has for decades managed Bill Gates' fortune, which is worth nearly $130 billion.

Larson runs Gates' secretive investment company, Cascade Investment, and manages Gates' personal wealth and that of his charitable foundation. Gates hired him almost 30 years ago, when the Microsoft cofounder's net worth was closer to $5 billion.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that Larson had become a point of contention between Gates and his wife, Melinda French Gates, after he was accused of sexual harassment in 2017.

The Times reported that a lawyer sent the Gateses a letter alleging that Larson had been sexually harassing a woman who managed a bike shop. The shop was partially owned by Rally Capital, a firm that Cascade had invested in.

The letter requested help from the Gateses in addressing the situation with Larson and threatened legal action if they didn't. Sources told The Times that the woman reached a settlement in 2018, signing a nondisclosure agreement in exchange for a payment.

French Gates hired a law firm to investigate the woman's claims and the culture at Cascade, and Larson was placed on leave. The outcome of the investigation was not clear, but Larson kept his job, The Times said.

Insider could not reach Larson. A spokesman declined to comment to The Times.

The Times report also described sources as saying Gates had pursued female employees and been dismissive of French Gates in work meetings at Microsoft. The high-profile couple announced earlier this month that they would separate after 27 years of marriage.

The man who makes Bill Gates richer

The Wall Street Journal profiled Larson in 2014, summarizing his job as to "make Bill Gates richer."

In February of that year, Gates held a celebration at his mansion near Seattle in honor of Larson, who at that point had been working for Gates for 20 years.

"Melinda and I are free to pursue our vision of a healthier and better-educated world because of what Michael has done," Gates said, according to The Journal.

He told the guests - who were asked to wear platinum or pink, Larson's favorite color - that Larson had his "complete trust and faith," sources told the newspaper.

Larson, 61, has worked for Gates through Cascade since 1994. He is the chief investment officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gates' personal investment portfolio.

He grew up in North Dakota and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and received an MBA from the University of Chicago, Fortune reported in 1999.

Gates' assets and Larson's investment strategy have largely been kept under wraps, but sources told The Journal that Cascade had produced consistent gains for Gates, with a compound annual return of 11% from 1995 to 2014.

Sources also told The Journal that Gates and Larson mostly had a professional relationship and that they rarely interacted socially.

Gates has spent much of his wealth on his charitable foundation, as well as on his $125 million estate in Washington, a luxury-car collection, and a private plane.

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