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Inside the 27-year friendship of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, who didn't even want to meet and now have each other on speed dial

Inside the 27-year friendship of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, who didn't even want to meet and now have each other on speed dial
Bill Gates' and Warren Buffett's friendship spans 27 years - Business Insider

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett didn't have any interest in meeting back in 1991. But they couldn't help taking a liking to each other and becoming best buds.

bill gates warren buffett laughingbill gates warren buffett laughing
They're billionaires and best bros.
Nati Harnik/AP Images
  • Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have been best friends for 27 years.
  • Initially, they weren't interested in meeting each other — but they hit it off right away.
  • They've partnered on political and philanthropic ventures, mentored each other, and had lots of laughs.


Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are the second and fourth-wealthiest people on the planet. They also happen to be best friends.

But when they met 27 years ago, it was grudgingly. Each one was surprised at how much they enjoyed talking to the other.

Since then, they've been a tag team on political and philanthropic causes as well as mutual mentors. Plus, they love goofing off together.

Below, we've collected the highlights of their relationship.

Bill Gates, 62 years old, is the second-richest person in the world. He's the former CEO of Microsoft and the cofounder of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates speaking at an event in Washington, 2014.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Source: Bloomberg

Warren Buffett, 87, is the fourth-richest person in the world. He's a legendary investor and the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

warren buffett
Warren Buffett speaks onstage during Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit - Day 2 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on October 13, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Paul Morigi/Getty Images

Source: Bloomberg

Gates' and Buffett's friendship dates back to July 5, 1991. Gates' mother, Mary, had invited the late Meg Greenfield, a Washington Post editor, to her home. Greenfield was to bring her friend Buffett with her.

young bill gates 1992
AP Photo

Source: Fortune, Business Insider

Mary Gates pressed her son to join them — he didn't want to take the day off work. "What were he and I supposed to talk about, P/E ratios?" Gates later wrote. The only reason he decided to come was because Greenfield was also bringing the late Post publisher Katharine Graham and he was interested in the Post's history.

Katharine Graham
Katharine Graham.
AP

Source: Fortune, Business Insider

Buffett didn't particularly want to meet Gates, either. "While we're driving down there, I said, 'What the hell are we going to spend all day doing with these people? How long do we have to stay to be polite?" Buffett remembered years later.

warren buffett 1995
DATE IMPORTED:July 31, 1995Investor Warren Buffett answers reporters' questions during a press conference to announce that Walt Disney will buy Capital Cities/ABC July 31.
Mark Cardwell/Reuters

Source: Business InsiderThe Snowball

To the surprise of both men, they hit it off. Gates recalls being impressed by the questions Buffett asked him, like, "If you were building IBM from scratch, how would it look different?" And Gates told Buffett to buy stock in Intel and Microsoft. It was the beginning of a deep friendship and a mutual mentorship.

warren buffett bill gates
Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates (R) shares a laugh with Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway during a news conference at the seventh annual CEO summit held at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington May 21, 2003.
Jeff Christensen/Reuters

Source: Fortune, Business Insider

Shortly after that first meeting, Gates asked Buffett for his favorite business book recommendation. Buffett lent Gates his copy of "Business Adventures" by John Brooks. Today, it's Gates' favorite business book, too — and he still has Buffett's copy.

bill gates business adventures
Ramin Talaie/Getty; Amazon

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Both credit their tremendous success to their laser focus. Gates has written that he's learned from Buffett how to manage his time by prioritizing certain people and tasks.

bill gates warren buffett talking
Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett, right, and Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder and director at Berkshire Hathaway, sit together during an interview by Liz Claman of the Fox Business Network in Omaha, Neb., Monday, May 8, 2017.
Nati Harnik/AP Images

Source: LinkedIn, LinkedIn

They've often joined forces for political and philanthropic causes. In 2010, Gates and Buffett, along with Gates' wife, Melinda, started The Giving Pledge. Billionaires who sign up commit to giving away more than half their wealth.

Bill Gates Melinda Warren Buffett
Seth Wenig/AP Images

Source: The Giving Pledge

In fact, Buffett contributes part of his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation every year. In 2017, he donated $2.42 billion of Berkshire Hathaway stock.

bill gates warren buffett laughing
They're billionaires and best bros.
Nati Harnik/AP Images

Source: CNBC

In 2014, Gates and Buffett, along with Sheldon Adelson, published a New York Times op-ed pushing for immigration reform.

How Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are changing the world like no other humans in history
Getty

Source: New York Times

The friends also have some odd pastimes. They participate in the newspaper-tossing challenge at the annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting.

bill gates warren buffett newspaper
REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Source: Business Insider

And they recently learned that they like trying out mattresses together.

bill gates warren buffett
The Gates Notes, LLC

Source: Business Insider

Gates has said Buffett's number is one of just two he has on speed dial at the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

warren buffett bill gates
Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett (R) talks to Microsoft founder Bill Gates as they play Bridge during the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting weekend in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S. May 7, 2017.
Rick Wilking/Reuters

Source: GatesNotes

The friendship has made a big impact on both men. Gates wrote that "Warren has helped us [Bill and Melinda] do two things that are impossible to overdo in one lifetime: learn more and laugh more."

warren buffett bill gates ping pong
Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett (L) gestures before a table tennis game with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates in Omaha May 5, 2013 the day after the company's annual meeting.
Rick Wilking/Reuters

Source: GatesNotes

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