Netflix documentary Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates, directed by Oscar-winner Davis Guggenheim, offers a close look into the life of Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates. With its clinical approach, the documentary talks in detail about his philanthropic efforts but the best parts are certainly the ones where we learn about Gates’ early years forming Microsoft.
The documentary takes a deep dive into Bill and Melinda’s efforts towards disease eradication, sanitation services in third world countries and their grass root level efforts to actually materialise the plans made by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
As far as Bill Gates’ personal life is concerned, three relationships are explored in detail throughout the documentary – mother Mary Maxwell Gates, friend and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and wife Melinda Gates.
Here’s everything that we learned about Gates’ relationships from Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates.
1. Bill Gates’ relationship with his mother
In the three-part documentary, Bill Gates remembers his mother Mary Maxwell Gates quite often and shares many stories from his childhood. We are told that as a child, Bill was quite asocial and his rebellious attitude ended up creating a complicated relationship with his mother. He would often spend his time reading books and would not be interested in going out with his friends. In fact, he once finished 14 books during his vacation. We are also told that he can read almost 150 pages in an hour.
Thus, his mother decided that Bill had to be equipped with dealing with the regular world and forced him to socialise. She would sign him up for public events and get him invited for dinner parties. Bill was hesitant at first but soon realised that this was for his own good. He also recounts that the day his mother passed away was the worst day of his life.
2. Bill Gates’ partnership with Paul Allen
Bill Gates and Paul Allen had a wonderful friendship during the early years of Microsoft. He talks about the time when they both collaborated on projects for school. At the time, Bill and Paul weren’t too close and Bill would spend all his time with his best friend Kent Evans. After Evans’ death, Bill desperately needed a partner.
In Paul, Bill found a partner who was poles apart from him. Bill reveals that it was Paul who got him drunk for the first time. He also refers to him as the ‘corrupting older brother’ who eventually became his best friend. The two moved to a shared apartment in Albuquerque and spent sleepless nights working on establishing Microsoft. Bill would eat Tang without water because getting up for meals would mean taking a break from work.
Their relationship started falling apart when Bill Gates felt that Paul Allen wasn’t giving his all to the company which was now huge in size. Their working style was so different that it led to some big fights.
Paul left Microsoft after he was diagnosed with cancer in 1982. They reconciled towards Paul’s last years. They both realised that their friendship was more than the little fights they had over the years.
3. Bill and Melinda Gates are partners in true sense
When Davis Guggenheim tells Melinda Gates the title of this documentary, she bursts out laughing. She laughs a couple of times and then describes Bill Gates’ brain as ‘chaos’. It’s evident through the documentary that Melinda is the livewire in their relationship and keeps him going. Bill is the brain and Melinda is the soul of the organisation.
The two met when she worked at Microsoft. He asked her out two weeks in advance but she walked away saying that this wasn’t ‘spontaneous enough’ for her. He called an hour later and asked her out again and they hit it off instantly. Bill credits Melinda for giving ‘true meaning’ to his organisation and philanthropic efforts.
Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates is streaming on Netflix.