With wife Melindas influence, Gates took an interest in filling his mothers role as a civic leader. He began to realize that he had an obligation to give more of his wealth to charity. Being the consummate student he was, Gates studied the philanthropic work of Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, titans of the American industrial revolution. In 1994, Gates and his wife established the William H. Gates Foundation which was dedicated to supporting education, world health, and investment in low income communities. In 2000, the couple combined several family foundations to form the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They started out by making a $28 billion contribution to set up the foundation.Bill Gates stepped down from the day to day operations of Microsoft in 2000, turning over the job of CEO to college friend Steve Ballmer who had been with Microsoft since 1980. He positioned himself as chief software architect so he could concentrate on what was for him the more passionate side of the business. He still remains chairman of the board. Over the next few years, his involvement with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation occupied much of his time and even more of his interest. In 2006, Gates announced he was transitioning himself from full time work at Microsoft, to devote more quality time to the Foundation. His last full day at Microsoft was June 27, 2008.
In addition to all the accolades of being one of the most successful and richest businessmen in the history of the world, Bill Gates has also received numerous awards for philanthropic work. Time magazine named Gates one of the most influential people of the 20th century. The magazine also named Gates, his wife Melinda, and rock band U2s lead singer Bono as the 2005 Persons of the Year.Gates also holds several honorary doctorates from universities throughout the world and an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. In 2006, Gates and his wife were awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle by the Mexican government for their philanthropic work throughout the world in the areas of health and education.In February 2014, Gates announced that he would be stepping down as chairman of Microsoft in order to move into a new position as technology adviser. In addition to Gatess transition, it was reported that longtime Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer would be replaced by 46 year old Satya Nadella.