Bill Gates Buys Stake in Heineken Parent Company

(Photo Credit: Brent Ozar/Flickr)

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Don’t be surprised if your Windows laptop starts suggesting you crack open an ice-cold beer while it does yet another update.

Former Microsoft CEO/World’s Richest Man Bill Gates has bought a 3.76% stake in the company that owns Heineken beer, according to Dutch outlet RTL Nieuws.

Bad Boy Billy

The $936 million investment is slightly out of character with the rest of Gates’ portfolio, which tends to be more in line with his philanthropic save-the-planet persona. His investment in vaccines both personally and via his charitable foundation is longstanding. At the end of last year, he invested in brain-computer interface startup Synchron along with fellow gazillionaire Jeff Bezos.

Gates is also heavily invested in agriculture; he’s the largest private farmland owner in the US and in January he backed a climate startup that hopes to reduce the amount of methane produced by livestock.

So why beer, and why now?

  • The beer market isn’t looking quite as hale and hearty as it once did, but Heineken announced plans last week for a big marketing push to give its premium products some buzz.
  • This isn’t the first time Gates has bet on cerveza — in 2007 he bought up 3% of a Mexican brewery called Femsa. The stake was worth $392 million.

Brad in Brussels: While Gates hoovers up stock in a Dutch brewer, current Microsoft president Brad Smith is next door in Belgium lobbying EU regulators to let the company buy Activision Blizzard, an acquisition that has already raised antitrust eyebrows in the UK. He managed to win over gaming giants Nintendo and NVIDIA to his cause, but that’s mostly window dressing as the real competitor most likely to be hard-hit is PlayStation. Time for some tech giant Smash Bros.