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Jeff Raikes

Bill Gates suddenly has another CEO position to fill.

Jeff Raikes, the 55-year-old CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is retiring after five years in the role with the global philanthropy.

A longtime Microsoft executive before joining the Gates Foundation, Raikes was at one point seen as a potential successor to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who also recently announced his own retirement.

Raikes was recently included on some speculative lists of potential candidates to replace Ballmer. However, based on what I’m hearing from multiple sources this morning, Raikes’ retirement is not a sign that he is going to back to Microsoft.

He will remain at the Gates Foundation until his replacement is found. Here’s the full text of the news release issued by the Gates Foundation this morning.

Jeff Raikes to Retire as CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Seattle, September 10, 2013 – Jeff Raikes, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, today announced his decision to step down from his position in an email and subsequent meeting with employees, accompanied by Bill and Melinda Gates, co-chairs of the foundation.

In his email, he wrote:

When Bill and Melinda approached me about this job in May 2008, we discussed a five-year commitment. I am proud of the work we’ve all done together in the past five years. We are having an impact on people’s lives every single day, and we are set up to keep on having an even bigger impact in the years to come.

Now, I’m looking forward to doing some things I haven’t had time for, including my work at the Raikes Foundation, which is tackling youth and education issues. I have learned so much from Bill, Melinda, our grantees and partners, and all of you about catalytic philanthropy and specific issues like agriculture and education. I have also learned from—and been deeply moved by—the people I’ve met in the field, whether they’re Ethiopian farmers trying to grow enough food to feed their children or a teacher in New Orleans helping students make a better future. These lessons will not only inspire me but also serve me day-to-day, because I will continue to invest my time and energy in these areas.

It has been a privilege to get to do this urgent, important work with you, and it has also been a lot of fun. I’m focused on making sure that the transition to your next leader is as seamless as possible, so that you can continue doing this work with the intellect and passion you bring to it every day.

“The foundation is in the best shape that it’s ever been in thanks to Jeff. He has successfully managed the organization through a period of significant growth, built a phenomenal leadership team, and set us on a great path programmatically. Thanks to Jeff we are at the place now where we will be able to have the impact we want,” said Bill Gates following the announcement.

“Jeff has been a wonderful collaborator. He kept us looking ahead and positioned the foundation, and Bill and me, for long-term success. He always stressed the importance of partnership and continuous learning, which has been invaluable to improving the work we do,” said Melinda Gates.

“Jeff took exactly the right approach to managing the foundation. He encouraged bold thinking and risk taking, and encouraged people to learn not just from what worked, but also what didn’t.  It’s what I expected from him and he delivered,” said Warren Buffett, trustee of the foundation.

Raikes will remain in his position until a successor is named.


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