Bill Gates Chats with Ellen for the First Time | Transcript

For the first time ever, Bill Gates sat down with Ellen, and he chatted about becoming a young billionaire, the trampoline room in his house, and the outstanding work he's doing with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Bill Gates Chats with Ellen for the First Time

YouTube Channel: TheEllenShow
Publishing date: on February 21, 2018

ELLEN: I am so happy to have you here. This is the first time having you on, so thanks. So I know you were nervous about the entrance. I think people feel like they’re supposed to dance. And I was really surprised because I was here earlier today for your rehearsal and then you abandoned it. But we should at least show them the rehearsal because it was really good.




ELLEN: It was good.


ELLEN: Your daughter is looking at you like, I’ve never seen you dance like that. Hi. So the last time we saw each other it was at the White House. We both were receiving the Medal of Freedom. And that was quite a day, wasn’t it?

BILL: That was an amazing group.

ELLEN: Yeah. Really, really fun. So you are here with your daughter who is 21, right? And you were 21 when you became a billionaire. Is that right?

BILL: Almost, yep.

ELLEN: All right, so around that age. You were like the youngest person to become a billionaire, is that right?

BILL: Yeah, in terms of earning it on my own, yeah.

ELLEN: Right. OK. Which is the most important thing. So when you were a kid, did you care about money? Or you just cared about technology and it just happened?

BILL: Mostly I loved software. I do remember at the private school I went to there were other kids whose families were better off. Like they had a Porsche or something. But it wasn’t that big of a deal. My thing was that I just loved doing software. I loved hiring people. And I was stunned when it ended up being so valuable.

ELLEN: Really?

BILL: Yeah.

ELLEN: It surprised you?

BILL: Yeah. Because I always had to be careful that we wouldn’t hire too many people. I was always worried because people who worked for me were older than me and they had kids. And I always thought well what if we don’t get paid. Will I be able to meet the payroll? So I was always very conservative about the finances. And then when we did go public, what was I? 30, by then. Then I was kind of stunned at what it multiplied out to.

ELLEN: Right. So, when you became a billionaire, at what point did you start relaxing? Were you still nervous when you became a billionaire? Like I got to watch this?

BILL: Well, I always wanted to have enough money in the bank so that even if our customers didn’t pay us for a year, we could still keep paying everybody and do the R&D. So I’d still be viewed as conservative. I don’t have that many things that are extravagant taste so it didn’t change too much.

ELLEN: So nothing really changed. So you didn’t say, oh I’m going to buy a Porsche.

BILL: I did. That I did.

ELLEN: All right.

BILL: Yeah.

ELLEN: You did. All right.

BILL: Yeah, that was an indulgence. And then eventually, for my travel, I got a plane. Which is a huge indulgence. So those are my two.

ELLEN: Well not really, because you travel all the time. So that’s important that you have a plane. So you have a Porsche and a plane and that’s it?

BILL: Well, in terms of crazy things, yeah. Yeah.

ELLEN: There’s not like any like wild– like you didn’t build like an aquarium with sharks in it or something like that?

BILL: We have a trampoline room in our house.

ELLEN: Oh wow.

BILL: The kids like that. Indoor trampoline. I recommend it.

ELLEN: Just one giant trampoline.

BILL: Yeah. Yeah, it’s a room with a very high ceiling.

ELLEN: Well yeah, I hope. That would be cruel if you didn’t put a high ceiling in there. Go on kids… All right, so let’s talk about this. So you already put $40 billion of your own money into your foundation.

BILL: Yep.

ELLEN: $40 billion. And you’ve kind of encouraged other billionaires to do this as well. Because it really is kind of up to the people to fix the problems in the world, it seems, right? So what is your main focus right now?

BILL: My wife Melinda and I picked global health as our big thing. The fact that still we have five million kids who die under the age of five. Now it was over 10 million when we got started so there’s been huge progress over the last 18 years. So things like malaria, diarrhea. Coming up with new drugs and vaccines and getting them out to all the kids in the world. That’s our main thing. Our second biggest thing is all in the US, which is trying to help improve the education system here.

ELLEN: Yeah.


ELLEN: And how do you do that? I always think you get what you pay for. So if you don’t pay teachers, because most teachers are paying out of their own pocket to take care of these students. So how do you do that?

BILL: Well, there are some really phenomenal teachers. And so the dream is that you could take that top 10% and have them help the others to get best practices, the best teaching ideas to spread all over the country.

ELLEN: We’re listening to you, obviously $40 billion does a lot. And there are other people that are helping. But what can we do? What is the best thing that you could say that just one person can do to help?

BILL: Well particularly with schools, the ability to go to the local public school or charter school and engage with the kids, mentor kids, talk about the kind of work you do. There’s huge opportunities there. With the challenges, say in Africa, part of it is people’s voice. There’s a real question now whether the US takes this less than 1% of our budget that saves tens of millions of lives and whether we don’t prioritize continuing that. So it’s a hot debate in terms of is it good for America to be generous and help the rest of the world live a healthy life.

ELLEN: Well, I mean the fact that you’re helping so many people all around the world. Because that, to me, is what when you have that kind of money, it’s for. That’s the best thing you can do actually. You’re making such a huge difference. I’m glad you’re a billionaire.


ELLEN: All right, you can learn more about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on the website and



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