The Bezos – and Their Fortune – Split

 

Bloomberg reports on what may be the split of the year, from a financial point of view:

Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie are divorcing after a relationship that started at a New York hedge fund and is ending a little more than a year after he became the world’s richest person.

“After a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends,” the pair tweeted on Wednesday.

Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos met in New York at D.E. Shaw. Jeff was the first person to interview MacKenzie for a role at the hedge fund and the pair ended up having offices next to each other, according to a 2013 interview with Vogue. They married in 1993 and a year later drove across the country to Seattle, where Jeff founded Amazon. They have four children.

Bezos often discussed the bond with his wife and made the story of their marriage a foundation of his personal biography. He liked to say that as a single man he sought a partner who could “get him out of a third-world prison” and that MacKenzie fit the bill. At work, Bezos often lit up when discussing his wife and children.

MacKenzie, an author, played a significant role at the company in the early years and “was there when he wrote the business plan,” she wrote in a disparaging 2013 review of a Bezos biography written by Bloomberg Senior Executive Editor Brad Stone. “I worked with him and many others represented in the converted garage, the basement warehouse closet, the barbecue-scented offices, the Christmas-rush distribution centers, and the door-desk filled conference rooms in the early years of Amazon’s history.”

After her husband became rich and famous, MacKenzie strove to retain her privacy, according to three people close to Bezos, who requested anonymity given the sensitive nature of the subject. MacKenzie’s primary influence on Bezos and Amazon was to provide encouragement in the early years and support through tumultuous times, one of the people said.

A male friend (single, I’ll note), commented on Facebook:

Here’s a question: What has Jeff Bezos’ wife done to deserve any of the money he made from Amazon? Why shouldn’t she go out with all the amazing stuff he bought her with the money HE (not she) earned and call it even?

A mutual friend saw his post and shared her thoughts:

I’m sorry, but if you’re a wife you says “yes honey, our family will eat beans out of a can while you follow your insane dream of selling books on this thing called the internet while I take care of your FOUR kids.” Yes. She deserves some real money here. It’s a (bleeping) partnership.

 

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There are 50 comments.

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  1. Thatcher

    Bethany Mandel:

    A male friend (single, I’ll note), commented on Facebook:

    Here’s a question: What has Jeff Bezos’ wife done to deserve any of the money he made from Amazon? Why shouldn’t she go out with all the amazing stuff he bought her with the money HE (not she) earned and call it even?

    I really thought there would be a [bleep]-load more “bleeps” in the rebuttal . . .

    One could counter argue, what has Jeff done lately to earn the continued love and respect of his soon-to-be-ex and their children?

    • #1
    • January 10, 2019 at 6:05 am
    • 2 likes
  2. Member

    I agree with the statement that she deserves some money, because she helped him achieve it.

    I usually don’t enjoy gossip, Bethany, but I enjoy you. And this was interesting. Thanks.

    • #2
    • January 10, 2019 at 6:08 am
    • 2 likes
  3. Editor
    Bethany Mandel Post author

    Here’s what I think:

    This is what he (the friend’s post) wants: Women to stay home raising kids, men can go off and cheat with zero consequences, and when women have enough, they’re left out to dry with nothing.

    There is value in women raising their own children. This is something conservatives like him supposedly believe. They cannot be expected to raise children as indentured servants. When you split household tasks in this way – with one person raising children and minding a household and one in the workforce – you are in an equal partnership. 

    • #3
    • January 10, 2019 at 6:15 am
    • 11 likes
  4. Member

    When I saw this story my first thought was “How sad. After 25 years you would hope they could work things out.” My second thought was “How great would it be to be her lawyer?”

    And your single male friend . . . he’s got the makings to be lifelong bachelor.

    • #4
    • January 10, 2019 at 6:20 am
    • 7 likes
  5. Thatcher

    If Amazon ended up being the MySpace of online retail, she would have gotten half of the attendant misery.

    Besides, any woman who can get you out of a third-world prison can get you into one if she’s of a mind to.

    • #5
    • January 10, 2019 at 6:31 am
    • 3 likes
  6. Member

    He liked to say that as a single man he sought a partner who could “get him out of a third-world prison” and that MacKenzie fit the bill. 

    Do you think Bezos meant a prison in a s[CoC]hole country?

    If yes, should we set the countdown clock to the SJW boycott of Whole Foods?

    (Anyone? Bueller?…)

    • #6
    • January 10, 2019 at 6:32 am
    • 2 likes
  7. Member

    Speaking as someone who was soaked in a bad divorce I really have no problem with the soon to be former Mrs. B. getting half. This money was earned entirely while they were married and she was an integral part of the work, not only at the office but at home. She was there for the whole thing and for the long hall so she gets everything she is owed. The problem is thornier when the marriage is short particularly when there is a large disparity in assets before the marriage. The roughly $140 Billion they earned post marriage makes that moot.

    I also think that Jeff’s behavior should be considered too. When I first heard the news I thought “man I hate it when people break up after 25 years of marriage saying ‘we’ll still be great friends and partners’ that just means they aren’t trying hard enough” my second thought was “Maybe Jeff woke up one day and said to himself ‘I’m the richest man in the world and I look pretty good….I wanna sleep with models'” which appears to be the case. Call me old fashioned but I am fine with financial repercussions for stepping out in a marriage. 

    • #7
    • January 10, 2019 at 6:38 am
    • 9 likes
  8. Thatcher

    After seeing the results of both non community property states as well as community property ones, I have to go with the community property rules.

    Equitable division of all assets acquired during the marriage.

    • #8
    • January 10, 2019 at 6:41 am
    • 5 likes
  9. Contributor

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):

    Here’s what I think:

    This is what he (the friend’s post) wants: Women to stay home raising kids, men can go off and cheat with zero consequences, and when women have enough, they’re left out to dry with nothing.

    There is value in women raising their own children. This is something conservatives like him supposedly believe. They cannot be expected to raise children as indentured servants. When you split household tasks in this way – with one person raising children and minding a household and one in the workforce – you are in an equal partnership.

    I dunno. I get the sense, you assume a shared culture is the way of the future. I doubt it. I can totally see it happening that prenups become a ritual in some locales or classes, precisely to detail in what ways the partnership isn’t equal.

    I can also see how divorce / alimony / child support laws will change to women’s detriment as a libertarian, individualistic egalitarianism progresses. How long will the current legal arrangement survive when the family goes the way of the homemaker to be a mere lifestyle chosen by a minority of Americans?

    I don’t see a lot of hope that in the future Americans will be obsessive about raising children. 

    I don’t know your friend; he may be a terrible person–but as an online guy, he just seems like yet another man who thinks society is unfairly biased against men, for women, & that the laws support this. There are millions of guys who believe this in America. In some ways, they’re of course right. But as urban America continues to fail to foster social harmony–surely, the dark passions of guys on the internet are going to become way more influential & all the old mid-century assumption will collapse. (Unless tech oligarchs manage to censor the future version of social media. I rather doubt it.)

    • #9
    • January 10, 2019 at 6:42 am
    • 1 like
  10. Moderator
    She

    I freely admit to being a bit cranky for several reasons this morning, and the following section of the OP really set me off (it’s not Bethany’s writing that irks me; it’s the quoted portion from Bezos):

    Bethany Mandel: Bezos often discussed the bond with his wife and made the story of their marriage a foundation of his personal biography. He liked to say that as a single man he sought a partner who could “get him out of a third-world prison” and that MacKenzie fit the bill. At work, Bezos often lit up when discussing his wife and children (emphasis added).

    For crying out loud. Bezos was born in Albuquerque, raised in Houston, graduated from Princeton (electrical engineering and computer science), and worked on Wall Street for eight years, from 1986 to 1994 (at one point, he was Sr. VP of D.E. Shaw, a new hedge-fund company). He founded Amazon largely on the strength of a $300K loan from his parents.

    “Third world prison?” Ravening hordes would be lining up at the gates, clamoring to get into such a “third-world prison.” Oh, wait . . . 

    I’ve been a loyal Amazon customer since 1997, and I can’t even imagine how many tens of thousands of dollars I’ve spent there over the last 22 years. It’s saved me time, saved me money and changed my life for the better in ways both large and small.

    But I don’t really give a fig about Jeff Bezos. Or his wife. Or about his sneery attitude. It’s the sort of comment that always reminds me of a performance, years ago, on the Academy Awards broadcast in which the usual unmemorable “Oscar Nominated Songs” were droned through, one after another while the audience gritted its teeth (in the auditorium) or fetched a beer (in the home).

    The one that I’m thinking of (God knows what it was called, or what movie it was from) was sung (if you can call it that), I believe (perhaps?) by Melissa Etheridge, and was some woke environmental screed masquerading as music. Accompanying the caterwauling were scenes of people working to save the planet by recycling, riding their bicycles to work, and generally behaving in ways completely foreign to the entitled and greedy denizens of the Chandler Pavilion who were yukking it up and sipping their champagne all the while.

    I think that’s the last time I watched an Oscar broadcast. And this is probably the last time I’ll read anything about Jeff and MacKenzie. I hope all involved in this mess get what they want, or at least what they deserve, and I’ll say a prayer for their kids.

     

    • #10
    • January 10, 2019 at 6:49 am
    • 5 likes
  11. Member

    During a blockbuster four-month investigation, The ENQUIRER tracked Bezos, who turns 55 on Jan. 12, and secret lover Sanchez across five states and 40,000 miles, tailed them in private jets, swanky limos, helicopter rides, romantic hikes, five-star hotel hideaways, intimate dinner dates and “quality time” in hidden love nests.

    Our reporters snapped the braggadocios billionaire and his raven-haired lover, 49, doing the dirty on their spouses together no fewer than six times in 14 days.

    link

     

    • #11
    • January 10, 2019 at 6:52 am
    • 2 likes
  12. Reagan
    iWe

    I think this is a wonderfully educational story about how &^$#@ stupid men can be.

    Jeff Bezos had an affair. And it will cost him tens of BILLIONS of dollars.

    That is some seriously pricey tail.

    What an idiot.

    • #12
    • January 10, 2019 at 6:56 am
    • 9 likes
  13. Reagan
    iWe

    And yes, she has earned half. A marriage is a partnership (unless there is a prenup saying otherwise). If you don’t intend to partner, then stay single.

    • #13
    • January 10, 2019 at 6:57 am
    • 7 likes
  14. Member

     

    Warning a little rough language…

     

    • #14
    • January 10, 2019 at 6:59 am
    • 1 like
  15. Member

    iWe (View Comment):

    And yes, she has earned half. A marriage is a partnership (unless there is a prenup saying otherwise). If you don’t intend to partner, then stay single.

    What I heard was, the ideal thing is to keep it intact so they can compound their returns more effectively. But what a mess if Amazon ever runs into trouble

    It’s rather amazing that if she just took 10 billion clean, no strings attached, she would be getting screwed. Crazy.

    • #15
    • January 10, 2019 at 7:01 am
    • 2 likes
  16. Member

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):
    This is what he (the friend’s post) wants: Women to stay home raising kids, men can go off and cheat with zero consequences, and when women have enough, they’re left out to dry with nothing.

    Given the trajectory of MRA, even if it has slowed a bit, I’d say that without any details published on Bezos and his wife’s reasons for divorce (or who filed for what reason), there are enough men who have been “frivorced” by wives when they have done nothing wrong and been financially devastated in the process to justify the sentiment.

    You assume Bezos had an affair. He assumes she filed for no reason. Both make assumptions. What makes yours better? Because it spares women? Good for you.

    Women file for no fault divorce far more often than men. Unhappiness is the reason given in most cases. And women are just as likely to engage in extram-marital affairs as men are.

    Forgive the man his bitterness. It isn’t entirely unjustified.

    • #16
    • January 10, 2019 at 7:02 am
    • 4 likes
  17. Member

    I would absolutely loathe being in the family’s security detail during this stuff. I saw an interview of a Secret Service guy who was protecting JFK. It really upset him decades later.

    • #17
    • January 10, 2019 at 7:21 am
    • 3 likes
  18. Member

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    iWe (View Comment):

    And yes, she has earned half. A marriage is a partnership (unless there is a prenup saying otherwise). If you don’t intend to partner, then stay single.

    What I heard was, the ideal thing is to keep it intact so they can compound their returns more effectively. But what a mess if Amazon ever runs into trouble

    It’s rather amazing that if she just took 10 billion clean, no strings attached, she would be getting screwed. Crazy.

    Honestly, that affair has the potential to alter the future of Amazon irrevocably. Depending on how pissed she is/becomes she could start a fight for control of the company. That would be fun.

    • #18
    • January 10, 2019 at 7:34 am
    • 3 likes
  19. Member

    iWe (View Comment):
    That is some seriously pricey tail.

    And I thought Anthony Weiner set the bar high at $4,000 an hour!

    • #19
    • January 10, 2019 at 7:35 am
    • 4 likes
  20. Member

    1967mustangman (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    iWe (View Comment):

    And yes, she has earned half. A marriage is a partnership (unless there is a prenup saying otherwise). If you don’t intend to partner, then stay single.

    What I heard was, the ideal thing is to keep it intact so they can compound their returns more effectively. But what a mess if Amazon ever runs into trouble

    It’s rather amazing that if she just took 10 billion clean, no strings attached, she would be getting screwed. Crazy.

    Honestly, that affair has the potential to alter the future of Amazon irrevocably. Depending on how pissed she is/becomes she could start a fight for control of the company. That would be fun.

    There is a really smart finance guy, “rational walk” on Twitter that said the same thing. When a CEO has marriage problems, it’s a big deal.

    • #20
    • January 10, 2019 at 7:35 am
    • Like
  21. Thatcher

    So … she’s single now, is she?

    • #21
    • January 10, 2019 at 7:45 am
    • 10 likes
  22. Coolidge

    It strikes me that some want to argue about which spouse the event of the divorce itself is more unfair to, or (even less important) what the most equitable division of their accumulated wealth would be. It seems to me that the bigger picture is that no-fault divorce is a terrible system; it stacks the odds against marriages lasting and in favor of a lot of suffering and unfairness in the long run. The fact that the suffering and unfairness may fall disproportionately on one party or the other is secondary to the fact that a lot of marriages are going to break up, which will result in a lot of suffering and unfairness.

    • #22
    • January 10, 2019 at 7:50 am
    • 1 like
  23. Thatcher

    Unwoke Caveman Lawyer (View Comment):
    It seems to me that the bigger picture is that no-fault divorce is a terrible system; it stacks the odds against marriages lasting and in favor of a lot of suffering and unfairness in the long run.

    Typically, adultery is one of those “fault” things that divorces are granted for in areas where there aren’t “no-fault” divorces. In areas where both types of divorce exist, “adultery” tends to be a category under “fault”.

    In other words, proliferation of “no fault” divorce probably does not apply in this case.

    • #23
    • January 10, 2019 at 7:52 am
    • 1 like
  24. Member

    She (View Comment):
    For crying out loud. Bezos was born in Albuquerque

    Someone on the Albuquerque subreddit pointed out Albuquerque’s connection to two of the richest men in the world. Bezos was born here and Gates started Microsoft here. Of course, neither are still in Albuquerque, but the city can claim a connection to them.

    • #24
    • January 10, 2019 at 8:00 am
    • 3 likes
  25. Member

    So, Ricochet is now officially a “social” network like many others on the net?

    Why the felt need to comment on someone else’s marriage? That’s the most important thing going on today?

    • #25
    • January 10, 2019 at 8:03 am
    • Like
  26. Coolidge

    Instugator (View Comment):

    Unwoke Caveman Lawyer (View Comment):
    It seems to me that the bigger picture is that no-fault divorce is a terrible system; it stacks the odds against marriages lasting and in favor of a lot of suffering and unfairness in the long run.

    Typically, adultery is one of those “fault” things that divorces are granted for in areas where there aren’t “no-fault” divorces. In areas where both types of divorce exist, “adultery” tends to be a category under “fault”.

    In other words, proliferation of “no fault” divorce probably does not apply in this case.

    Well look, admittedly I’m no expert on this area (and my education on the subject took place entirely in the modern no-fault era; so the previous system is even more of an abstraction to me), but if the divorce is really about an instance of infidelity on his part, the old system would have at least permitted the judge to take that into consideration, wouldn’t it?

    In other words:

    — Under either a theoretical ideal or actual historical pre-no-fault system, she could choose to stay in the marriage and work things out despite his infidelity, or she could leave and take all his stuff (because he was the one at fault). The natural incentives under this system make it that much more possible and likely that their marriage will not break up, and that much less likely that he’ll commit adultery in the first place.

    — Under the current system, in effect, he can choose to cheat on her, then also unilaterally choose to get out of the marriage. At best, she ends up with half his stuff (and a bunch of material wealth is no substitute at all for a faithful husband and an intact family and intact life), and all of us arguing about whether even leaving her with that much is too generous to her.

    • #26
    • January 10, 2019 at 8:11 am
    • Like
  27. Contributor

    “Alexa, file divorce papers.”

    • #27
    • January 10, 2019 at 8:18 am
    • 13 likes
  28. Coolidge

    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen (View Comment):

    “Alexa, file divorce papers.”

    • #28
    • January 10, 2019 at 8:26 am
    • Like
  29. Member

    I just watched a report on FOX News. They are going to fight like hell over their real estate. She is not going to want the mistress in her favorite properties.

    • #29
    • January 10, 2019 at 8:49 am
    • 2 likes
  30. Member

    I think that his wife is entitled to half of the assets. They grew their life together. And if his family life, that is, his home life, had failed, his time and money would have gone to that part of his life rather than his business. And his investors and upper-level employees would have thought less of him if his family life hadn’t been as picture perfect as it was.

    I have seen it said about Jeff Bezos that what distinguished him from the other tech entrepreneurs of his era was that he put all of his money back into his business. He did not take money out of it to live on. Given his pending divorce, if true that’s an interesting sidebar.

    With my own kids, I’ve often thought that there is no amount of money I couldn’t spend on them if I had it in front of me–whether for travel or education. Or simply buying things for them I’d like them to have. I’ve never had that kind of money, but if I had it, I could definitely spend it well for things I would like them to have had or have now.

    With that idea in mind, I’d be curious to know what it was like during the early years when their kids were young. I’m guessing the family went without some things so that Jeff could make investments in his business.

    I’m just saying that their finances are a complicated picture. Family life is messy, and family finances usually accurately reflect that.

    • #30
    • January 10, 2019 at 9:23 am
    • 6 likes
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