What do the faces of the closest friends behind one of the most successful and famous entrepreneurs in the entire world look like?
Bill Gates is most famously close to Warren Buffett, one of the most well-known and successful American investors globally. Gates was also close with the co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen, who died in 2018. Kent Evans was his first best friend in high school.
Continue reading to dive deeper into the friendships of Bill Gates.
Gates’ First Best Friend
Let’s start out from the beginning, where Gates made his first long-term friendships.
In a 2019 Netflix documentary titled, Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates, Bill reflected on his high school years and how they led up to his subsequent enormous fortune from Microsoft.
The three-part series is an interesting inside look at the creation of the billionaire’s company, including the fact that he certainly wasn’t alone in his endeavors.
In middle school, Gates joined a computer club that was run by Paul Allen, who was actually older than Bill by two years. Kent Evans also became part of the club, and he and Gates hit it off.
They became the closest of friends, often talking on the phone after school each day.
Bill and Kent were unbreakable, constantly dreaming and planning about their future plans, while their classmates were more focused on average teenage things, like the school dance.
Speaking about him and Kent reading Fortune Magazine together, Bill said in the documentary that they would wonder “If you went into the civil service, what did you make? Should we go be CEOs? What kind of impact could you have? Should we go be generals? Should we go be ambassadors?”
Things were going well for the close duo as they reached Lakeside High School, and they were even asked if they could manage the schedules of the classes.
While this was a fantastic opportunity for them, the work was tough. There were many requests and limitations that they had to follow.
Under stress, Kent decided to partake in a mountain climbing course, even though he wasn’t very athletic.
Bill explained, “It was kind of this classic Kent thing where he broadened his world view, and he decided that being a little bit physical was something that, you know, was valuable.”
In a tragic turn of events, Kent fell down one of the hills and died. It was such a sudden and unexpected event, but Bill still wanted to follow the big dreams they had planned.
The Birth & End of a Lifelong Friendship
After the death of Kent, Bill continued working hard to achieve his goals. He ended up forming a close bond with Paul Allen, the senior who had created the computer club where he and Kent had met.
At 17 years old, he started working with Allen on a project called Traf-O-Data, which would make traffic counters based on the Intel 8008 processor.
The Traf-O-Data had some success, but it was the experience Gates and Allen gained from the venture that really came in handy – it essentially set them up to create the first Microsoft product not long after.
Allen and Gates reunited in ‘74 at Honeywell International Inc., and it was around this time that they decided to start up a computer software company together.
Microsoft was born, a name created from a mix of “microcomputer” and “software”. They soon partnered with multinational tech company IBM.
In 1981, Allen became the vice chairman and vice president of Microsoft but left in ‘83 due to some health issues. Their partnership and friendship had become strained before his departure, but they eventually reunited and stayed friends until Allen died in 2018.
Gates and Buffett
This friendship begins in 1991, when Mary Gates (Bill’s mother) was having some guests over at her home for dinner: Washington Post editor Meg Greenfield, and her friend Warren Buffett.
Mary asked Bill to join the dinner, but the entrepreneur wasn’t too keen.
“I didn’t even want to meet Warren because I thought, ‘Hey this guy buys and sells things, and so he found imperfections in terms of markets, that’s not value added to society, that’s a zero-sum game that is almost parasitic.’ That was my view before I met him … he wasn’t going to tell me about inventing something,” Gates once explained.
Despite his reluctance, the men got along extremely well. Bill was impressed by Warren’s questions and asked him for a book recommendation.
They’ve been very close ever since, with Bill crediting Buffett for teaching him efficient time management and prioritization.