Big Moves at Amazon After Jeff Bezos Divorce


Lucian Dobroszycki

Joseph Moser ’19 and Owen Tumer ’20 agreed that Bezos’s divorce posed critically important consequences for Amazon.

“We want prenup! We want prenup!”

Kanye West’s immortal words from his 2004 hit song ‘Gold Digger’ ring true for male divorcees around the world. Yet, for Jeff Bezos, they probably feel more like a knot in the stomach. That is because Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, is the wealthiest man in the world, and in early February, he divorced his wife of twenty-five years, Mackenzie Bezos, without previously having signed a prenuptial agreement.

Now, Jeff Bezos will certainly survive this financial blow (and the associated heartbreak). He and Mackenzie parted on good terms, despite Jeff’s infidelity with Fox newscaster and media personality Lauren Sanchez.

What is more pressing is the future of Amazon, the company of which Jeff Bezos is the CEO, and which he began with Mackenzie.

According to CNN, since Jeff was married to Mackenzie when he founded Amazon, the entire company can potentially be deemed marital property. Jeff Bezos is the figurehead of Amazon, but unlike tech CEOs from companies such as Facebook and Google who exert control over shares with special voting rights that ensure their control, Bezos holds normal voting rights on the board at Amazon. Mackenzie, if she so decides, could entrench herself in the company and hold shares equal to those of her husband.

According to the divorce settlement, Mackenzie Bezos is to retain 25% of the couple’s 16% stake in Amazon, with shares valued at $35 million dollars. This will make her the richest woman in the world, after Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, the part-owner of L’Oreal, and Alice Walton, member of the Walton family that owns Walmart.

Still, Mackenzie, with her 4% control of the company, will not exert so much control. This is not only for the company’s supposed health, but also in keeping with the aggressively amicable nature of the divorce. Following the settlement, Mackenzie posted on Twitter, “Happy to be giving him all of my interests in the Washington Post and Blue Origin, and 75% of our Amazon stock plus voting control of my shares to support his continued contributions with the teams of these incredible companies.”

For the largest divorce ever, this one certainly hasn’t lived up to its hype. Amazon’s stock value has improved since the announcement in January and Jeff and Mackenzie are pursuing a friendly post-divorce relationship. They plan on sharing their kids and remaining in close contact.

Finally, if Mackenzie lost some potential income from the divorce, she earned it back in the respect and praise she’s received on social media. On Twitter, she received praise for her handling of the situation. Twitter users posted GIFs of Michael Jackson authoritatively dunking a basketball and Jordan Belfort clapping in praise. Jeff Bezos replied, “I’m very grateful for her support and for her kindness in this process and am very much looking forward to our relationship as friends and co-parents.” For all the hubble and bubble, Kanye’s prediction of “Eighteen years, eighteen years/And on the eighteenth birthday he found out it wasn’t his?” is implausible. Indeed! Sometimes, divorces work out. And sometimes, divorce works out beautifully.