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Raikes moves from Microsoft to top spot at Gates Foundation

By A. James Memmott

May 13, 2008 at 3:20pm

Microsoft’s employee No. 105 will soon become the No. 1 employee at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest foundation in the world.

The foundation announced Monday that Jeffrey S. Raikes, 49, will take over as CEO of the foundation on Sept. 2, the date of his retirement from Microsoft.

Raikes, 49, who joined Microsoft in 1981 as its 105th employee, had been the head of the Microsoft Business Division until January. He has stayed with the company during a transition period before his retirement.

A millionaire, he will assume leadership of a foundation now worth $37.3 billion.

He replaces Patricia Q. Stonesifer, who is retiring.

Another former Microsoft executive, she has been with the foundation since its creation 11 years ago by Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman and co-founder, and his wife, Melinda.

Raikes announced his intent to retire from Microsoft in January. At that time, his plans for the future were not definite, he said Monday.

“I thought about teaching; I thought about agribusiness,” the Nebraska native told The New York Times. “But when I had the opportunity to sit down with Bill and Melinda and saw all the talent and experience (at the foundation), I became very excited.”

Raikes assumes leadership of a philanthropic powerhouse, one that has focused its giving on organizations worldwide that work to improve heath and alleviate poverty.

In addition, it has donated to efforts on behalf education in the United States.

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the foundation now gives away more than $3 billion per year, and that amount is expected to grow as the foundation grows.

In 2006, investor Warren Buffett pledged $31 billion to the foundation, adding significantly to its reach.

A Stanford University graduate, Raikes came to Microsoft from Apple Computer Inc. Steve Ballmer, now the company’s CEO, recruited him. Raikes’ wife, Tricia, was the 75th employee hired by Microsoft.

Raikes rose to become part of Microsoft’s leadership team, third in power behind Gates and Ballmer.

Microsoft Business, which Raikes headed, produces the fabulously successful Microsoft Office software suite and other business applications. It generated $16 billion in revenue for the company last year.

One of Raikes’ many contributions to Microsoft’s bottom line came in 1987, when he convinced the company to buy what would become PowerPoint.

Raikes got rich with the company. He has over 5 million shares of Microsoft and is a part-owner of the Seattle Mariners baseball team.

He and his wife are the founders of the Raikes Foundation, which had a book value of $126 million according to its federal filing for 2006.

Jeffrey and Tricia Raikes were the co-chairs of the 2006-07 United Way campaign in the Seattle area. It raised $122 million, reportedly the largest United Way campaign in the country.

Stephen Elop, a native of Canada and the former chief operating officer of Juniper Networks, has replaced Raikes as the head of Microsoft Business.

Before Juniper, a Microsoft partner, Elop was at Adobe Systems Inc.

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