Melinda Gates, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair, has quietly established a new organization called Pivotal Ventures, an independent executive office that will give her an opportunity to pursue ideas, projects and potentially investments that might not fit within the structure of the foundation.
A spokeswoman for Melinda Gates confirmed the creation of Pivotal Ventures after GeekWire discovered the organization’s initial website. However, the spokeswoman emphasized that Gates continues to focus her time and energy on her Gates Foundation role, and said the establishment of the office doesn’t represent any change in the Gates Foundation’s structure.
Although it’s run independently, without any Gates Foundation resources, Pivotal Ventures works in close partnership with the foundation.
Gates is expected to use the office in part to further her work on issues of gender inequity and women’s empowerment. In recent years, Gates has emerged as a leading advocate of family planning and access to contraceptives, in addition to working on issues such as maternal and newborn health.
Based in Kirkland, Wash., Pivotal Ventures was officially established in January. The organization currently has 12 staffers.
“We set up the office to offer a vehicle, when the time comes, to help explore potential other initiatives that don’t fit naturally or neatly within the foundation’s program areas,” said the spokeswoman, Catherine St-Laurent, director of communications for the Executive Office of Melinda Gates. “It gives her some flexibility to pursue those opportunities as they arise, but in a way that doesn’t divert the foundation, or resources that are committed to other priorities.”
The group is still in the early stages of establishing the operation and determining its ultimate path. However, based on Gates’ interests, St-Laurent said women’s issues will be a priority that will “shape the direction of the initiatives” that the office pursues.
Bill Gates has a similar executive office, called bgc3, that oversees his work apart from the Gates Foundation, much of which is documented on his popular Gates Notes site.