Bill Gates is the third-richest man in the world—after Tesla's Elon Musk (in first place) and Amazon's Jeff Bezos (in second place). Gates has an estimated net worth of $132 billion as of Jan. 2021, according to Bloomberg. Gates dropped out of Harvard University and became a technology entrepreneur after founding Microsoft Corporation in 1975. Over the decades, Gates successfully built his company into a major technology powerhouse, earning himself a fortune in the process.
Gates has since retired from the day-to-day functioning of Microsoft and focuses his efforts on his philanthropic causes through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These causes have included producing a malaria vaccine, gun control reform, and education reform. The Foundation has a substantial portfolio of investments. Its investment philosophy is to use capital from the Foundation to help businesses create solutions to complex and entrenched problems.
- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s portfolio has Berkshire Hathaway as its top holding with 50 million shares valued at over $11B.
- Waste Management is the second-largest holding with over 18.6 million shares valued at $2.12 billion.
- The third-largest holding is the Canadian National Railway Company with over 17.1 million shares valued at $1.54 billion.
- Caterpillar Inc. is the fourth-largest holding with 11.2 million shares for a total value of $1.66 billion.
- Walmart Inc. is the fifth-largest holding in the Foundation's portfolio, with 11.6 million shares at a market value of nearly $1.40 billion.
What Bill Gates' Portfolio Looks Like
All other financial information, including market capitalization data for the below companies, was as of December 22, 2020. Market capitalization—or market cap for short—is the aggregate value of a company using the total number of outstanding equity shares multiplied by the company's current stock price.
1. Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.
The largest holding in the Foundation’s portfolio is Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. (BRK.B). The Foundation holds nearly 40 million shares of Berkshire Hathaway with a market value of just over $7 billion.
Berkshire Hathaway is one of the largest companies in the S&P 500, with a market cap of $522.43 billion. The company was ranked sixth in the 2020 Fortune 500 list. Bill Gates has developed a very close relationship with Warren Buffett since they first met in 1991; Gates served on the Board of Directors of Berkshire Hathaway until March 2020. Both investors have signed a pledge to give away a significant portion of their wealth to philanthropic causes.
2. Waste Management, Inc.
Waste Management, Inc. (WM) is the second-largest holding in the Foundation’s portfolio. The Foundation owns over 18.6 million shares with a market value of $1.97 billion.
Waste Management is a provider of waste management and associated environmental services. It further develops and operates waste to energy and landfill gas to energy facilities in the United States. It is the largest waste management company in the country, with over 20 million customers. The company has a market cap of more than $49.73 billion and was ranked 207th on the 2020 Fortune 500 list.
3. Canadian National Railway Company
The third-largest holding in the Foundation’s portfolio is the Canadian National Railway Company (CNI). The Foundation has over 17.1 million shares with a market value of $1.51 billion.
Canadian National Railway provides integrated transportation services including rail, trucking, freight forwarding, and warehousing. The company mainly transports petroleum products, grain and fertilizers, coal, metals, and automotive products. It has a market cap of $74.1 billion.
4. Caterpillar Inc.
Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) is the fourth-largest holding in the Foundation's portfolio. The Foundation holds over 11.2 million shares of Caterpillar, with a market value of more than $1.42 billion. Caterpillar is a manufacturer of heavy equipment used for mining, agriculture, and energy. Caterpillar has a market cap of $77.52 billion and was ranked 62nd on the 2020 Fortune 500 list.
5. Walmart Inc.
Walmart Inc. (WMT) is the fifth-largest holding in the Foundation's portfolio, with more than 11.6 million shares and a market value of nearly $1.38 billion. Walmart Inc. is a retail giant with stores and operations worldwide. Walmart operates supercenters, discount stores, and supermarkets. Walmart also owns Sam's Club, where it operates warehouse clubs. Walmart has a market cap of $407.25 billion and was ranked number one on the 2020 Fortune 500 list.