FARGO – Two tech billionaires have now made North Dakota stops in the past two weeks.
Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates made a stop in Fargo this past weekend to pay a visit to an old friend, Gov. Doug Burgum.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg talked oil July 11 in Williston.
In a Facebook post from Burgum’s official page posted Monday, July 24, Burgum writes:
“Tremendously grateful to welcome Bill Gates to North Dakota this past weekend for a wide-ranging conversation on the important issues facing citizens in our state, and around the world. Harnessing technology is key to driving innovation in all areas of government, from healthcare and addiction, to justice reform, education and infrastructure. Bill’s leadership and commitment to improving the world around him is an inspiration for finding creative solutions to 21st century challenges.”
The Facebook post also includes a photo of Burgum and Gates posing atop the 300 Broadway building, one of the development projects from Burgum’s Kilbourne Group, in downtown Fargo with the iconic Fargo Theatre marquee in the background.
The two had a one-on-one conversation that lasted approximately three hours, Communications Director Mike Nowatzki confirmed. Among the topics discussed were technology, infrastructure, summer reading, tennis and family, among other things.
Most recently Gates was one of Burgum’s highest campaign contributors during his 2016 run for North Dakota governor. In all, Burgum’s 2016 campaign raised more than $1.1 million, with Gates contributing $107,000.
Burgum’s and Gates’ business relationship dates back to 2001, when Burgum led Fargo-based Great Plains Software’s $1.1 billion sale to Microsoft. Burgum would then stay on as a Microsoft executive until 2007.
In April 2013, Gates served as a guest speaker at Concordia College’s dedication ceremony for the college’s new Offutt School of Business in Moorhead, Minn. Gates also made an appearance in Fargo in 2002 for a meeting of Microsoft Business Solutions employees along with regional and state business and education leaders.