纽约时报双语:比尔·盖茨夫妇究竟为何离婚?

比尔·盖茨夫妇究竟为何离婚?
The Separate Worlds of Bill and Melinda Gates
NICHOLAS KULISH, REBECCA R. RUIZ, DAVID GELLES
2021年5月11日
纽约时报双语:比尔·盖茨夫妇究竟为何离婚?

Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates were stuck at home.

比尔·盖茨(Bill Gates)和梅琳达·弗兰奇·盖茨(Melinda French Gates)被困在家里。

When the pandemic hit last March, the couple retreated to their 66,000-square-foot home on the shore of Lake Washington, venturing out infrequently to minimize their potential exposure to the virus. From their home offices they continued running the influential foundation that bears their name, video chatting with world leaders to secure financial commitments for vaccine distribution, and talking about the health of American democracy with their youngest daughter, who was finishing her senior year of high school remotely.

大流行在去年3月袭来时,这对夫妇隐居在他们位于华盛顿湖岸边约6130平方米的家中,很少冒险外出,尽量减少接触病毒的可能性。在他们的家庭办公室里,他们继续经营着以他们的名字命名、极具影响力的基金会,与世界各国领导人视频聊天,确保疫苗分发的财务承诺,还同他们的小女儿谈论美国民主的健康问题,她正在通过远程教育完成高中的最后一年。

For a couple who had spent much of the past three decades traveling the world, so much time together at home was an abrupt change of pace. “Working from home — that was a piece that I think we hadn’t really individually prepared for quite as much,” Ms. French Gates told The New York Times in October.

对于这对在过去三十年中大部分时间都在世界各地旅行的夫妇来说,在家里待这么长时间是一种突然的变化。“在家办公——我认为在这件事上,我们并没有真正做好足够的个人准备,”弗兰奇·盖茨在去年10月告诉《纽约时报》。

In a November podcast, Mr. Gates also spoke about adjusting to life at home after decades on the road. “My life has changed utterly,” Mr. Gates said. “It’s very abnormal.”

在11月的一次播客节目中,比尔·盖茨还谈到在经历了几十年的奔波生活后,如何适应家里的生活。“我的生活彻底改变了,”盖茨说。“这很不正常。”

Now, life has changed in another way, too.

现在,生活的另一个方面也发生了变化。

The news on Monday that the power couple of global philanthropy would be dissolving their marriage sent shock waves through the field. For those who, unlike Mr. Gates and Ms. French Gates, had never thought about mRNA vaccines before Covid-19 hit, the pandemic brought home in the clearest way possible just how influential their foundation is in the field of global public health. And the divorce announcement, and subsequent spotlight, has made clear how dependent such an essential organization is on its ultrawealthy founders.

上周一,这对全球慈善事业中极有影响力的夫妇将解除婚姻关系,消息在这个领域引起了轩然大波。对于那些与盖茨夫妇不同、在新冠暴发前从未想过mRNA疫苗的人来说,这场大流行以最清晰的方式让他们了解到,盖茨夫妇的基金在全球公共卫生领域有多么大的影响力。离婚声明以及随之而来的大量关注表明,这样一个重要的组织是多么依赖它的超级富豪创始人。

Foundation staff members were surprised by the announcement. Mr. Gates, 65, and Ms. French Gates, 56, are both hands-on leaders, and much of the power of the foundation lies not just in the billions of dollars they have given it but also in their public standing and connections.

基金会的工作人员对这一消息感到惊讶。65岁的盖茨和56岁的弗兰奇·盖茨都是亲力亲为的领导者,基金会的很大一部分力量不仅在于他们捐赠的数十亿美元,还在于他们的公众地位和关系。

But for years the couple had already been building out closely connected but different worlds, nurturing their respective — and sometimes overlapping — interests through independent channels. She had spent more time supporting women’s issues, while he had been pursuing clean energy projects. Inside the foundation, they each had their own areas of focus, too.

但多年来,这对夫妇已经建立了一个紧密相连但又有所不同的世界,通过独立的渠道培养各自的兴趣——有时也会重叠。她花更多的时间支持女性问题,而他一直致力于清洁能源项目。在基金会内部,他们也有各自关注的领域。

“Institutionally, the foundation had already absorbed the separation,” said Benjamin Soskis, a philanthropy expert and senior research associate at the Urban Institute. “They each have their own areas of interest. It’s not as if this was a unitary entity that is suddenly shattered.”

“从制度上来说,基金会已经接受了这种分割,”城市研究所(Urban Institute)的慈善专家、高级研究员本杰明·索斯基斯(Benjamin Soskis)说。“他们有自己各自的兴趣领域。并不是说一个统一的实体突然破碎了。

Sharing a global stage

共享的全球舞台

The foundation has made reassuring statements that nothing will change. It will continue with its $50 billion endowment and important range of issues. But because each co-founder has a separate project — Gates Ventures for him, Pivotal Ventures for her — there is anxiety within the foundation that it may no longer be the dynamic center of their work.

基金会发声明做出保证,称一切都不会改变。它将继续拥有500亿美元的捐赠基金和重要的关注范畴。但是,由于两位联合创始人各自拥有一个独立的项目——他的项目是盖茨创投(Gates Ventures),她的项目是枢纽创投(Pivotal Ventures)——基金会内部有一种焦虑,担心基金会可能不再是他们工作的动态中心。

“If you’re at the ventures you think the foundation is slow, doesn’t get it, is mired in the wonkery of development,” said a former foundation staff member who has worked with both Gateses and requested anonymity to discuss the internal rivalries. “Whereas if you’re at the foundation, your theory is, ‘We do the real work and these cowboys are rushing in at the last-minute demanding to change things, demanding to justify things.’”

“如果你在创投项目里工作,你会认为基金会动作缓慢,抓不住重点,陷入了发展的僵局,”一位曾与盖茨夫妇共事的基金会前工作人员说,因为谈及内部争斗,他要求匿名。“而如果你在基金会工作,你的说法会是,‘是我们在做真正的工作,而这些牛仔在最后一刻才冲进来,要求改变事情,要求证明事情。’”

Hovering over everything is the question of what caused their breakup and how deep the rift ultimately is between them. Why they announced the divorce when they did is a mystery.

笼罩在这一切之上的问题是,是什么导致了他们的分手,他们之间的裂痕到底有多深?他们为什么在此时宣布离婚是一个谜。

With their youngest child about to graduate from high school, several observers in their orbit noted it is often a time of reassessment for couples, and a moment that partners go their separate ways. The timing of the announcement also came just days after Warren Buffett, a close friend and the foundation’s third trustee, had his annual meeting, which may not have been a coincidence. “They spared Warren having to deal with it, by waiting until after his annual meeting,” one associate said.

他们最小的孩子即将高中毕业,他们圈子里的几位观察人士指出,这通常是夫妻重新评估对方的时候,也是伴侣分道扬镳的时候。宣布这个消息是在沃伦·巴菲特(Warren Buffett)——他们密友和基金会的第三位受托人——召开其年度会议的几天之后,这可能不是巧合。“他们等到沃伦的年会结束后才宣布此事,让沃伦不用被迫面对这个问题,”一位同事说。

The recent example of MacKenzie Scott, who divorced the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and went on to a higher profile as a solo philanthropist than she ever had in the marriage, cannot have escaped Ms. French Gates’s attention. Indeed the two women worked together on Ms. French Gates’s project on women and power, the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge.

近期的例子还有麦肯齐·斯科特(MacKenzie Scott),她与亚马逊(Amazon)创始人杰夫·贝佐斯(Jeff Bezos)离婚后,作为一个单独行动的慈善家,获得了比她在婚姻中更高的知名度,这不可能不引起弗兰奇·盖茨的注意。事实上,这两位女士曾在弗兰奇·盖茨关于女性与权力的项目“平等是不能等待的挑战”(Equality Can ‘t Wait Challenge)中合作过。

In the past few years there were few obvious signs that the Gateses were growing apart, at least to the public. Ms. French Gates continued to appear at Microsoft functions alongside Mr. Gates, including an annual dinner for chief executives and other business leaders the couple hosted at their home each spring.

在过去的几年里,几乎没有明显的迹象表明盖茨夫妇正在分道扬镳,至少在公众面前是这样。弗兰奇·盖茨继续与盖茨一起出现在微软(Microsoft)的各种活动中,包括每天春季在他们家中为首席执行官和其他商业领袖举办的年度晚宴。

Ms. French Gates, however, had hinted that she had sometimes felt overlooked when sharing a stage with her husband. She wrote candidly about those feelings in her book, “The Moment of Lift,” which was published in 2019. “I’ve been trying to find my voice as I’ve been speaking next to Bill,” she wrote, “and that can make it hard to be heard.” A person who knows her well but spoke on condition of anonymity about such a private family matter said anyone watching her body language at events for the Giving Pledge — through which billionaires promise to give away at least half of their fortunes — and other public engagements could see that she was unhappy.

不过,弗兰奇·盖茨曾暗示,与丈夫同台时,她有时会觉得自己被忽视了。她在2019年出版的《女性的时刻》(The Moment of Lift)一书中坦率地描述了这些感受。“当我站在比尔旁边说话时,我一直在努力寻找自己的声音,”她写道,“这让我很难被别人听到。”一位熟悉她、但因为谈论家庭私事而不愿透露姓名的人说,在“捐赠承诺”(Giving Pledge)活动——亿万富翁们通过该活动承诺捐出自己至少一半的财富——和其他公开活动中,任何人都可以通过肢体语言看出她不开心。

To many who saw the couple only in the professional setting of the foundation, it was more surprising. “People just seemed shocked. They’re speechless. They’re really blindsided. After such a difficult year of people working so hard it just feels like more whiplash,” a former longtime foundation executive said. The question everyone is asking now is how it will affect the foundation moving forward. “There’s already these divisions, how are they not going to be more reinforced?”

对于许多只在基金会的专业环境中看到这对夫妇的人来说,这件事更加令人惊讶。“人们似乎很震惊。他们无言以对。他们真的措手不及。经过这么艰难的一年,人们如此努力地工作,感觉更像是受到了打击,”一位曾经长期担任该基金会高管的人说。现在每个人都在问,这将如何影响基金会的发展。“已经有了这些分歧,它们怎么会不遭到进一步强化呢?”

‘This just might end the marriage’

“婚姻也许就此终结”

In the annual letter for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Gates became accustomed to recapping the past year and setting the agenda for the next. In late 2012, following some especially formative travels and a global conference on family planning, Ms. French Gates asked to write that dispatch with him.

在给比尔和梅琳达·盖茨基金会(Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation)的年度信函中,比尔·盖茨习惯于重述过去的一年并确定下一年的议程。在2012年底,经过几次特别的旅行和一次全球计划生育会议之后,弗兰奇·盖茨要求与他一起写那封信。

“I thought we were going to kill each other,” Ms. French Gates, as she now prefers to be known, wrote in her book. “I felt, ‘Well, this just might end the marriage right here.’”

她现在希望人们称呼她为弗兰奇·盖茨。“我以为我们会杀了对方,”她在她的书中写道。“我感觉,‘嗯,婚姻也许就此终结。’”

The heated dispute paved the way for a fuller public partnership, but that didn’t come instantly: In January 2013, Mr. Gates’s signature still stood alone, with their compromise being a short piece on contraceptives by Ms. Gates that accompanied his letter.

激烈的争论为建立更全面的公共伙伴关系铺平了道路,但这并没有立即到来:2013年1月,信上仍然只有比尔·盖茨的签名,他们只是达成妥协,让弗兰奇·盖茨负责他信中的关于避孕用具的一个小短篇。

“I told him that there are some issues where my voice can make an impact, and in those cases, I should be speaking — separately or along with him,” she wrote. “It got hot. We both got angry. It was a big test for us — not about how you come to agreement but about what you do when you can’t agree. And we took a long time to agree.”

“我告诉他,在有些问题上让我来发声能够制造一些影响,对于这些问题,我应该讲话——单独或同他一起,”她写道。“争执很激烈,我们都很生气。这对我们来说是一个巨大的考验——这并不是关于你们怎么达成一致,而是关于当你们不能达成一致时怎么办。而我们则花了很长时间达成一致。”

Following their divorce, how the couple will collaborate on joint projects like their annual Goalkeepers report, the Giving Pledge and the foundation’s major communications, are open questions.

离婚后,这对夫妇将如何在联合项目上进行合作,例如他们的年度守门员报告(Goalkeepers)、“捐赠承诺”和基金会的主要通联工作,都是悬而未决的问题。

When the Gates Foundation was formally established more than two decades ago, Ms. French Gates took on a bigger role in running it than her husband did, because of the demands of his work at Microsoft. In spite of that, she initially shied away from a public role, leaving speeches and appearances to him. “I wanted to work behind the scenes,” she wrote, noting she had wanted to guard her privacy.

盖茨基金会在20多年前正式成立时,由于比尔·盖茨在微软的工作量,弗兰奇·盖茨在管理该基金会方面担当了比她的丈夫更重要的角色。尽管如此,她最初还是避开了公共角色,把演讲和露面机会留给他。她写道:“我想在幕后工作,”并指出她想保护自己的隐私。

But that changed after Mr. Buffett made his historically large gift in 2006. He announced that he would give $31 billion to the foundation, vaulting the already huge organization to a new level, handing out billions of dollars each year equivalent to the entire endowments of sizable philanthropies.

但是,自从巴菲特在2006年做出历史性大笔捐赠以来,情况发生了变化。巴菲特宣布将向该基金会捐款310亿美元,将本已庞大的组织提升到一个新的水平,每年分发数十亿美元,相当于大型慈善机构的全部捐款总和。

At an appearance addressing Mr. Buffett’s gift at the New York Public Library, Ms. French Gates participated in her first news conference on behalf of the foundation. She outlined plans to invest in agricultural yields, microlending and fighting infectious disease, and she did so in personal terms that invoked her own travels. She has called that moment a turning point, one that made her want to take on a more prominent public role.

在纽约公共图书馆(New York Public Library)为巴菲特的捐赠致辞时,弗兰奇·盖茨首次代表基金会参加了新闻发布会。她概述了在农业产量、小额贷款和防治传染病方面进行投资的计划,她以个人名义这样做,并谈及了自己的旅行经历。她将那个时刻称为转折点,一个让她想扮演更重要的公众角色的转折点。

“She started to speak out as she started to observe some things the foundation wasn’t focused on that she thought were really important, around social and cultural elements, the importance of behavior change, the importance of systems, the importance of an integrated approach,” said Gary Darmstadt, a medical doctor who teaches at Stanford. He worked closely with Ms. French Gates at the foundation, focused on maternal health and access to contraceptives.

“当她开始观察一些她认为基金会没有关注到的重要问题时,她开始发声,比如对社会和文化,行为改变的重要性,制度的重要性和兼容并蓄的重要性,”在斯坦福大学授课的医生加里·达姆施达特(Gary Darmstadt)说。他在基金会与弗兰奇·盖茨合作密切,重点关注孕产妇健康和避孕用品的获取。

“She realized ‘OK, I’m going to have to step into a global leadership position on this issue because no one else is really doing it, and I’ve been equipped,” said Dr. Darmstadt, who joined the foundation in 2008 and traveled widely with Ms. French Gates to places like India, Malawi and Tanzania. “I think it became clear to her that she had to use her voice on behalf of women.”

“她意识到,‘好吧,我必须在这个问题上扮演一个全球领导者的角色,因为没有其他人真正去做,而我已经做好了准备,’”达姆施达特表示。他在2008年加入基金会,与弗兰奇·盖茨去过很多地方,包括印度、马拉维和坦桑尼亚。“我想,她很清楚,必须为女性发出她的声音。”

Creating parallel ventures

创立并行企业

It was also in 2008 that Mr. Gates announced that he was stepping down from his full-time duties at Microsoft. He would remain chairman of the board and the company’s largest shareholder, but he said that he would devote himself to the foundation.

也是在2008年,盖茨宣布辞去微软的全部职位。他还是董事会主席和公司的最大股东,但他表示,自己将致力于基金会的工作。

Yet that year he quietly incorporated a new company, called bgC3 LLC, in Washington State, for pet projects that were related to neither Microsoft nor the Gates Foundation. There, he incubated work on climate change and clean energy that became Breakthrough Energy, along with education and health projects separate from the foundation, especially work on Alzheimer’s. (He changed the organization’s name to Gates Ventures in 2018.)

然而就在那一年,他悄悄地在华盛顿州成立了一家名为bgC3 LLC的新公司,负责的项目与微软和盖茨基金会都无关联。在这家公司,他孵化出气候变化和清洁能源方面的成果,后来变成了突破能源联盟(Breakthrough Energy),还有独立于基金会的教育和健康项目,尤其是对阿尔茨海默症的研究。(2018年,他将该机构改名为盖茨创投。)

In 2015, Ms. French Gates created a parallel world of her own, starting Pivotal Ventures, an enterprise focused on gender equality and social progress. In doing so, she was able to more fully explore interests that had been of little prominence in the early years of the foundation.

2015年,弗兰奇·盖茨创造了属于自己的平行世界,创立枢纽创投,专注于性别平等和社会进步。此举让她得以更充分地探索她的兴趣,这在基金会成立早年并未得到多少关注。

“I thought, ‘I want to have a company that has all the tools to work on social issues for women and minorities, even in addition to our education work that we were already doing in the foundation,” she said to The Times in October. “What I’m doing with Pivotal Ventures is gathering many other people around me to have these cohorts who work on these issues, and then also fund them at scale. We don’t fund things for women at scale. And we should.”

“我想的是,‘我要成立一家公司,拥有为女性和少数群体解决社会问题的所有工具,比我们基金会已经在做的教育工作甚至还要多,’”她在去年10月接受时报采访时说。“我在枢纽创投所做的,是把很多人聚集到我身边,得到研究这些问题的伙伴,同时为他们提供大量资金。我们并没有为女性事业做出大量投入。我们应该这样做。”

An organization ‘filled with uncertainty’

“充满不确定性”的组织

Former foundation insiders noted another force pushing Mr. Gates and Ms. French Gates toward their separate initiatives: Struggles at the foundation over staffing levels.

前基金会内部人士指出,促使两人离婚的另一个因素是:基金会在人员配备上出了问题。

“It was a constant tension point of the foundation. It was Warren who limited it, but Bill’s appetite is always, ‘We should do this, we should do this.’ Teams end up with this massive to-do list,” the former executive said.

“这是基金会的一个持续矛盾。限制人员的是沃伦,比尔的一贯态度是,‘我们应该做这个,我们应该做这个。’团队最终的任务清单非常庞大,”这位前高层说。

Mr. Buffett acknowledged in an interview with The Times last year that he opposed institutional bloat. “That’s the one piece of advice I don’t shut up on, ever, because it’s the natural tendency of every organization,” he said.

巴菲特去年接受时报采访时承认,他反对机构膨胀。“在这条建议上我永远不会闭嘴,因为这是每个机构组织的自然趋势,”他说。

Employees at the foundation often have to wear multiple hats to keep up with the demands. For instance, one staff member, Anita Zaidi, serves in the highly technical role of director of vaccine development and surveillance but also serves as president for gender equality.

基金会的员工经常得身兼数职才能满足需求。例如,一位名叫安妮塔·扎伊迪(Anita Zaidi)的员工担任了疫苗开发和检测负责人的职位,同时还是促进性别平等的主席。

Even without the divorce, the foundation was in the midst of change. Mr. Buffett, the third trustee, turns 91 this summer. Mr. Gates’s father, Bill Gates Sr., who was co-chair and a guiding hand at the foundation, died this past September. Some observers have wondered if the couple’s three children could get involved soon. The elder two are already in college and medical school. Others have raised the possibility that this is the moment to loosen the family’s grip and install a board drawn from professionals outside the inner circle.

即使没有这场离婚,基金会也已处于变动之中。第三受托人巴菲特今夏就将年满91岁。盖茨的父亲、担任基金会联合主席和指导人的老比尔·盖茨(Bill Gates Sr.)于去年9月去世。一些观察人士猜测这对夫妇的三个孩子是否很快就会参与基金会的工作。大的两个已经上大学和医学院了。其他人则提出这样一种可能,那就是现在应该放松盖茨家族的控制,将核心圈子之外的专业人士引入董事会。

“It’s a family foundation. Bill and Melinda’s names are on the door, which means anytime something changes there’s just this whole ripple effect,” said the former foundation executive. “You put this in the middle of it, it just feels like it creates even more uncertainty in an organization that’s always filled with uncertainty.”

“这是个家族基金会。比尔和梅琳达的名字就在大门口,这意味着只要发生变化,就会引出一套连锁反应,”那位基金会前高层说。“再算上这件事,感觉就是在一个一直充满不确定性的组织里制造更多不确定性。”

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