Behind his image as a straight-laced tech mogul, Bill Gates was notorious for throwing naked pool parties with strippers and being a “womanizer” — even after meeting future wife Melinda, according to a biography.
The Microsoft co-founder’s wild lifestyle was well known among his inner circle — but newspapers like the New York Times hid the unflattering reports to continue getting “spoon-fed stories,” James Wallace wrote in the 1997 biography, “Overdrive: Bill Gates and the Race to Control Cyberspace.”
They “didn’t report on the wild bachelor parties that Microsoft’s boyish chairman would throw in his Seattle home, for which Gates would visit one of Seattle’s all-nude nightclubs and hire dancers to come to his home and swim naked with his friends in his indoor pool,” Wallace wrote.
It was a continuation from his time at Harvard, where he “did like to frequent Boston’s notorious Combat Zone, with its porn shows, strip joints, and prostitutes,” Wallace wrote.
“He continued to play the field for a while, especially when he was out of town on business, when he would frequently hit on female journalists who covered Microsoft and the company industry,” the author wrote.
“His womanizing was well known, although not well reported,” Wallace wrote, singling out the Times for not wanting “the flow of information to stop” from the computer guru.
Melinda — who last week filed for divorce after 27 years of marriage — “was well aware of Gates’s womanizing” even after they started dating, Wallace insisted.
“Consequently their relationship ran hot and cold,” he wrote, adding that the couple “broke up for nearly a year” because of Gates’ refusal to commit.
“When they got back together again in 1992, however, the relationship grew closer and stronger,” he wrote.
The book included interviews with some of Gates’ exes, including Ann Winblad, whom he continued having weekends away with even after marrying Melinda in 1994.
Gates even asked his ex for her opinion on Melinda before he settled down, with Winblad describing it as his future wife passing a “test” rather than being a “serendipitous choice.”
“A relationship with Bill early on is a test. Are you smart enough? Do you have enough common sense? Can you make the grade? Are you athletic enough?” she told Wallace in his book.
“Melinda is Bill’s pick. He could have chosen any woman as a wife for life. He has chosen her, and that means she is an exceptional woman,” Winblad said.
Another ex, Jill Bennett — described as his “first serious girlfriend” — said they split because of Gates’ fixation with working long hours.
“In the end, it was difficult to sustain a relationship with someone who could boast a ‘seven-hour turnaround’ — meaning that from the time he left Microsoft to the time he returned in the morning was a mere seven hours,” she told Wallace.
Former Microsoft executive Vern Raburn agreed with the biography’s take on Gates, his longtime friend, alleging to the Daily Mail that there was “infidelity” during Gates’ early relationship with Melinda.
“Being naked in a pool is no big deal,” Raburn told the outlet. But “there’s a difference between being naked in a pool with a whole bunch of other people, and being naked in a pool with somebody else, or in a bed with somebody else,” he said of Gates not being faithful to Melinda at first.
“Certainly prior to their marriage, yeah — Bill liked to party. But I never saw any of that after the marriage,” Raburn said.
“In fact, I had dinner with him one night. He said he was very proud of the fact that he hadn’t done any of that since he got married,” he told the Mail.
“I truly hope Bill and Melinda end up being happy,” Raburn said, calling the former couple “good people.”
“Anybody who tells you they have a good divorce, they’re lying through their teeth,” he said.
Biographer Wallace, now 74, told the Daily Mail on Monday that the billionaire tech mogul “wasn’t a choir boy back then.”
“He wasn’t just this little computer nerd. He did have a life back then,” the former Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter said.
“A lot of those Microsoft kids back then, they were young guys in pizza-stained T-shirts for two or three days working on software code.
“Then they would have some pretty wild parties, where they would go out and get strippers in Seattle and bring them over to Bill’s home,” he said of the apparent wild bashes in Laurelhurst, Washington.
Wallace said he doubted Gates would return to his naked pool-partying days post-divorce — but his interview noted a Page Six report about the then-married mogul “dancing Paris Hilton-style” on a banquette with a group of young women at a Sundance Film Festival in 2010.