Bill Gates, ever the philanthropist, has given away his way to no longer being Microsoft's largest shareholder. It's a title Gates had held since founding Microsoft, starting off with a 64% share of the company he co-founded with Paul Allen. But Gate's philanthropic efforts, mostly on behalf of his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have steadily eaten away at his share of the company.
A trade filed today saw Gates selling 4.6 million shares of MSFT (to the tune of $185.6 million), and that was enough to drag his ownership down to 330.1 million shares. The shares that Gates has sold has dragged his ownership down from that 64% to under 4%. Gates has, on average, sold 80 million shares of Microsoft a year.
So with 330.1 million shares putting Gates at numero dos in the Microsoft ownership hierarchy, who is numero uno? With 333 million shares, it's Gate's successor as CEO: Steve Ballmer.
So, congratulations to Bill Gates, for giving his way away to no longer being Microsoft's largest shareholder. It's a worthy thing to have earned billions upon billions of dollars only to give it all away.