Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, having conquered most of the technological universe, will now turn to a long-term task that has confounded many of civilization’s greatest minds: Raising a child.
Fatherhood for Gates - and motherhood for his wife and Microsoft manager Melinda French Gates - was “launched” at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue at 6:11 p.m. Friday with the birth of a healthy 8-pound, 6-ounce, 19-inch baby girl.
The baby - the couple’s first - was named Jennifer Katharine, not for any family member but because both “were names Bill and Melinda liked and landed on,” according to Microsoft publicist Alison O’Brien of Waggener-Edstrom, Portland-based public relations consultants.
“Everybody in the family is very, very pleased with the new grandchild,” said Gates’ father, Bill Gates Sr. “Mother and baby are doing real well. Like most new parents, their heads are in the clouds.”
The Gates have already demonstrated a fierce protectiveness of their child.
In contrast to most of Bill Gates’ previous productions, such as “Microsoft Windows 95,” launched with news conferences and fanfare, baby Jennifer arrived amidst a virtual news blackout.
Zero publicity is “how they wanted it,” said Dean Katz, Microsoft’s spokesman.
“Bill and Melinda feel like having a child is really a family matter,” Katz said. “They really wish for her (Jennifer) to have as normal a life as possible.”
As co-founder and CEO of the world’s leading computer-software company, Bill Gates is one of the world’s richest men. Forbes Magazine estimated his wealth last year at $14.8 billion.
Melinda Gates has worked at Microsoft since 1987. The couple met at a Microsoft dinner in New York and married in a private ceremony on New Year’s Day, 1994, on the Hawaiian island of Lanai.
If Microsoft competitors think fatherhood will cause Gates to lose his competitive edge, they are likely to be disappointed.
While Gates was present at the birth of his daughter, he was back at work Monday, albeit on a “light schedule,” Katz said.
“Bill is obviously excited about being a father, yet he has a lot of energy and enthusiasm for his work,” Katz said. “He’s committed to his role at Microsoft, and to his new focus at home.”