Following his marriage to Melinda, Bill Gates made getaways with his ex-girlfriend.
Bill Gates spent a long weekend each year after marrying his wife at a cozy beach cottage in North Carolina with his old flame.
When the billionaire Microsoft founder married Melinda French in 1994, he made certain the bizarre arrangement was included in the contract, he told Time magazine in a 1997 interview.
“We can play putt-putt when debating biotechnology,” Gates said of his private getaways with fellow nerdy techie and ex Ann Winblad — Winblad, a source told The Post on Tuesday, is now happily married to actor Kevin Kline's detective brother, Alex Kline.
Gates had consulted Winblad prior to proposing to his partner.
“While I was off contemplating marrying Melinda on my own, I called Ann and sought her approval,” he explained, adding that Winblad gave the other woman the green light.
“I told him she'd be a good fit for him because she possessed intellectual stamina,” Winblad remembered.
Gates — who declared his divorce from Melinda on Twitter on Monday after 27 years of marriage — revealed that he and Winblad began visiting his ex's Outer Banks home in 1984, after meeting at a computer conference.
The near pair continued their annual trip down South even after splitting in 1987, when Winblad, who is five years older than Gates at 70, was officially more settled.
The secluded excursions included everything from dune buggies to hang-gliding and quiet beach strolls.
“We discuss the universe and ourselves,” Winblad told the magazine.
“So we marvel at how, as two young overachievers, we embarked on a grand adventure on the outskirts of a little-known industry and found ourselves at the core of an incredible universe.”
According to the paper, Gates still had a photograph of him and Winblad on a trip to Germany in his office at the time of the interview.
He also kept a photograph of himself, Melinda, and a group of friends from a 1995 trip to Indonesia among the few personal photographs in his work room.
Gates and Winblad, a tech expert and venture capitalist from Seattle, Wash., began their relationship in the same way that any other computer-geek couple would — with virtual dates, according to the outlet.
They would be in separate cities but would attend the same film at the same time and then discuss it over the internet.
“Bill was not a big deal when I began dating him,” Winblad recalled in 2005 to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“And there was a time when my net worth exceeded his, and I was responsible for it. It was a brief time frame, but it was memorable,” she remarked.
Meanwhile, Gates appeared willing to please Winblad, promising to abstain from meat at the time, though he has since reversed his position, Time said.
And she was in awe of his determination and self-assurance.
After they began dating, "Bill and I went for a walk on the beach, and Bill says, 'I can see my way to $500 million in sales if I squint very hard,'" Winblad told the Silicon Valley Business Journal in 2013.
According to the outlet, the amount was at least five times what any tech firm was doing at the time.
“Bill had a significant impact on me, and I remember thinking, 'Wow, you can really create a company that large in the software industry?' 'Are you serious?'" As Winblad said.
“I recall commanding him to take a stick or a rock and draw the numbers for me in the sand. How will he get there? He then said, 'What concerns me is that I am unsure how I can surpass $500 million.'
I thought to myself, 'You're concerned about that?'" Winblad referred to his recollection. “I was ecstatic that anyone could reason their way to $500 million. There was a great deal of inspiration from one another back then, due to the paucity of mutual wisdom.”
She also disclosed another occasion when the pair traveled to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, on a whim.
“When we arrived, it was difficult to obtain a rental car, and when we did, it was a beat-up old Volkswagen, and it was Spring Break,” Winblad told Wired in 1996.
“As a result, we obtain a hotel. It's a run-down hotel, but that's great because we're doing this on a whim, and this is just part of the adventure. When I sign in, I leave Bill outside. So I go outside and inquire, 'Where is the car?' 'I sublet it,' he says. He leased the car to a group of teenagers for $5 per day!” As Winblad said. 'We're in room wherever,' he said as he handed them the car keys. Simply knock on the door and return the keys to us.'
“Something along the lines of 'I'm Bill Gates; here's the rental car; here's the key to our space.' 'We're never going to see that car again,' I'm thinking. There are adolescent boys.'
“He responds, 'You're probably right.' We eventually recovered it around 2:00 a.m., and it was in perfect condition.”
When the couple traveled to Brazil, Gates brought a 1,100-page textbook on molecular biology with him, Time said.
Winblad brought tapes of renowned physicist Richard Feynman with him on a trip to a ranch in Santa Barbara, Calif., so they could listen to them.
Gates exclaimed in an interview for the same piece that his former girlfriend "brings a sense of fun and laughter to even the most serious circumstances."
“Her professional demeanor is reminiscent of Warren Buffett's. She is extremely intelligent,” Gates, a lifelong associate of Buffett's billionaire Berkshire Hathaway, said.
He discussed his and Winblad's mutual passion for travel.
“One of my favorite trips with Ann was when we spent a week in Santa Barbara and borrowed dozens of films from a university library to educate ourselves about biotechnology,” Gates said.
“We spent hours watching movies, even though it was sunny outside.”
The couple rented a motorcycle in Greece, but Gates was such a poor driver that Winblad ended up in a ditch, he said.
“Another time, we purchased a dune buggy because I desired one similar to the one featured in [the film] 'The Thomas Crown Affair,'” Gates explained.
“And just a month ago, Ann and I were in North Carolina attempting to set a new world record for the number of putt-putt golf rounds played in two hours,” he joked, referring to one of the pair's annual visits to her beach cottage.
According to Winblad, the pair also enjoyed beach parties with friends that included what they dubbed "the sing-down" — a game in which teams were given a word and challenged to create songs featuring it.
When Gates' party heard the word "shore," she said, he vanished for a few moments before reappearing singing a high-pitched rendition of "Puff the Magic Dragon."
Winblad married Alex Kline, 63, approximately six years ago, according to a source familiar with her gumshoe husband.
He is a private investigator and Stanford University graduate who appeared as an extra in his big brother Kevin's bizarre 1988 film, "A Fish Called Wanda," according to a 2000 Stanford magazine article.
According to the article, Alex Kline has two adult children from a previous marriage.
Though Gates is now the world's fourth richest man as co-founder of the computer software behemoth Microsoft, Winblad is no slouch.
A former Minnesota high school valedictorian and head cheerleader, Gates' ex co-founded an accounting software business, sold it, and then co-founded a venture capital firm with retired NBA Supersonics player and Princeton University graduate John Hummer.
According to the Guardian at the time, Gates became a limited partner in the company in 1999.
The billionaire Microsoft founder made sure the bizarre arrangement was part of the deal when he married Melinda French in 1994, he told Time magazine in a 1997 profile.
“We can play putt-putt while discussing biotechnology,” Gates said of his private getaways with fellow nerd techie and ex Ann Winblad.
Gates even sought Winblad’s approval before proposing to his wife.
“When I was off on my own thinking about marrying Melinda, I called Ann and asked for her approval,” he said, adding that Winblad gave the other woman the thumb’s up.