Just days after shares in Gay.com publisher, PlanetOut rose 20 per cent on Nasdaq, a company that invests the wealth of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, has purchased a major stake in the company.

PlanetOut, which also owns the Adovocate and RSVP Cruises, floated in October 2004 at a share price of $9 (£4.48), it quickly rose to $14.26 (£7.10) in November. Tonight, shares closed up at $1.69 (£0.83), a marked improvement on its 52 week low of $0.86 (£0.43).

Cascade Investments LLC who manage the fortune of Bill Gates has previously invested in Six Flags, Four Seasons Hotels and Pacific Ethanol. It joined with a number of other private equity vehicles including Special Situations Funds, Cascade Investment, L.L.C., SF Capital Partners, PAR Investment Partners LP and Allen Company LLC to fund a rescue buyout of PlanetOut stock

The new investors including Mr Gates will collectively own a majority of the shares in PlanetOut, likely (dependent on the details of the private placing) to total 56.3 per cent of the company.

PlanetOut had previously said that it would seek to divest itself of some of its adult brands. It’s not known if this will include Gay.com, which despite some lifestyle and news content is predominantly used for dating and sexual “hook-ups”.

Mr Gates not known for his jovial side is unlikely to want to be associated with sexual imagery or photographs of members penises.

In the USA, PlanetOut faces competition from MTV owner Viacom who run the Logo gay television network, itself owning 365Gay.com, AfterEllen.com and AfterElton.com. And Washington Blade owner, Window Media LLC.

In the UK, PlanetOut publishes UK.Gay.com which competes with the larger gay dating site Gaydar.

Further filings with the regulatory authorities on Wall Street will disclose how much of PlanetOut Cascade Investments has purchased on behalf of Mr Gates.