Jeff, MacKenzie Bezos Say They're Divorcing After 25 Years
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.
While Wall Street took the announcement in stride, investors will be watching to see if the divorce settlement affects Bezos’s control of Amazon. So long as the company is growing and returning profits, he’ll probably maintain their confidence, though a settlement could potentially put a dent in such Bezos side projects as the space exploration company Blue Origin. “It sounds friendly and she doesn’t have any motive to mess with the business,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc. “I presume it will be business as usual, and wouldn’t expect any lingering reaction.”
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, 54, is worth $137 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world’s 500 wealthiest people. He owns about 16 percent of the retailer as well as the Washington Post and Blue Origin. “Jeff remains focused on and engaged in all aspects of Amazon,” Drew Herdener, a spokesman for the retailer, said in an emailed statement in response to a question about how the divorce might affect the company and its investors. A divorce could reshape the global wealth ranking. If the couple split their fortune equally, it could leave MacKenzie, 48, with $69 billion, making her the world’s richest woman. It could also make Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, currently worth $92.5 billion, the planet’s richest person once again. Bezos eclipsed Gates in October 2017.
The state of Washington – where Amazon is based and the couple have a home – is a community property state, which means all property and debt acquired during a marriage “will be divided equitably by the court if the couple cannot negotiate an agreement,” according to the website of McKinley Irvin, a family law firm in the region.
There is no set formula in Washington law as to how assets should be split, said Jennifer Payseno, a partner with McKinley Irvin in Seattle who handles high-net worth divorce cases for the firm. Wealthy couples often agree how to divide their assets before bringing the matter to a judge, and those detail are often filed confidentially with the court.