Bill Gates co-founded Microsoft in the mid-seventies and went on to build the business into a software behemoth that shaped the digital lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world.
But now some shareholders are said to be grumbling about Mr Gates's involvement in the business, lobbying the board to pressure him to resign as the company's chairman.
Against the backdrop of plummeting PC sales and with the company struggling to gain traction with the latest instalment of its Windows operating system, Microsoft is already searching for a new chief executive after the incumbent, Steve Ballmer, announced his intention to step down earlier this year.
But three unnamed investors with a combined stake in the business of more than 5 per cent would also like Mr Gates to bow out after nearly four decades of involvement in the business.
Quoting sources with knowledge of the discussions, Reuters reported the investors are concerned that Mr Gates might limit the power of the company's next chief executive, who will be charged with reviving the fortunes of the software giant as it attempts to head-off the threat posed by rivals such as Apple and Google.
The shareholders in question were also reported to be concerned that Mr Gates, who spends much of his time engaged in philanthropic activities, and who has gradually sold down his stake in the business to less than 5 per cent, has too much influence over the business given his shareholding.
Microsoft declined to comment on the report.
While it was unclear if the three shareholders had found any sympathy on the board, Paddy Power soon began running the odds on when Mr Gates might leave the company.
The bookmaker calculated the odds of the Microsoft co-founder stepping down from his position in 2013 at 11/8. For 2015, the outcome was priced at 6/5, while it is offering odds of 2/1 for Mr Gates to leave in 2015 or later.
Bill gates According to the Bloomberg Billionaires List, he is the world's richest person in 2013
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