Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos – once the richest couple in history – have had their divorce confirmed after a United States court dissolved their marriage on Friday, Bloomberg reported
Under the terms of the divorce settlement, MacKenzie Bezos will keep a 4 per cent stake – worth US$38 billion – in Amazon – the multinational technology company led by her former husband – making her the world’s third-richest woman, according to Forbes magazine.
The couple met before Amazon was founded in 1994. They were engaged within three months of starting to date, and married within six months.
They were married for 25 years, and have four children together.
MacKenzie and Jeff first met in 1992 at the US hedge fund D.E. Shaw.
Jeff – who remains the world’s richest man despite the divorce settlement – was the first person at the company to interview MacKenzie – a fellow Princeton University graduate. MacKenzie became a research associate at the firm where Jeff was a vice-president.
“I think my wife is resourceful, smart, brainy, and hot, but I had the good fortune of having seen her résumé before I met her, so I knew exactly what her SATs were,” he joked to Vogue magazine in 2013.
After MacKenzie started the job, she and Jeff became office neighbours. “All day long I listened to that fabulous laugh,” she told Vogue. “How could you not fall in love with that laugh?”
Jeff said he knew from the start that he wanted to marry a resourceful person. “Nobody knows what you mean when you say, ‘I’m looking for a resourceful woman’,” he told Wired in 1999.
“If I tell somebody I’m looking for a woman who can get me out of a Third World prison, they start thinking Ross Perot … They have something they can hang their hat on!”
MacKenzie made the first move and asked Jeff out to lunch. They were engaged within three months and married within six months in 1993.
Soon after, Jeff told MacKenzie about his revolutionary idea for an online bookstore.
She has said that while she’s not a “business person”, she could hear the “passion and the excitement” in his voice when he spoke about the idea.
She told CBS: “Watching your spouse, somebody that you love, have an adventure – what is better than that, and being part of that?”
In 1994, the couple quit their jobs in New York and drove across the country to Seattle to found Amazon.
While MacKenzie drove, Jeff was “tapping out a business plan on his computer along the way” and “calling prospective investors on a [mobile] phone”.
MacKenzie became an accountant for Amazon, making her one of the company’s earliest employees. She was reportedly responsible for negotiating Amazon’s first freight contracts at a Barnes & Noble bookstore.
Until about 1999, the couple rented a one-bedroom house in Seattle.
When they were married they owned five houses across the US: in Medina, in the state of Washington; Beverly Hills, California; Van Horn, Texas; the city of Washington; and Manhattan, New York.
Until 2013, MacKenzie still drove the couple’s children to school and Jeff to work in the family’s Honda. A family friend, Danny Hillis, told Vogue that the Bezoses “are such a normal, close-knit family, it’s almost abnormal”.
The family followed a fairly normal routine, with Jeff never scheduling early-morning meetings at Amazon to ensure he could have breakfast with his family.
When it comes to educating their children, Jeff and MacKenzie have tried a range of strategies, including “off-season travel, kitchen-science experiments, chicken incubation, Mandarin lessons, the Singapore math[ematics] programme, and lots of clubs and sports with other neighbourhood kids”, MacKenzie told Vogue.
MacKenzie, who was an assistant to Toni Morrison, the American Pulitzer-prize-winning author and Princeton University professor emeritus, while at the university, is now a novelist.
She has written two books, The Testing of Luther Albrightand Traps.
Jeff told Vogue he would sometimes wake up during holidays to find his wife working on her first novel in hotel bathrooms. MacKenzie told Vogue that Jeff is her “best reader”.
However, MacKenzie did not become a part of Amazon’s publishing imprint. “We are calling her the fish that got away,” Jeff told Vogue.
MacKenzie told Vogue that their personalities complemented each other. “He likes to meet people: he’s a very social guy,” she said.
“Cocktail parties for me can be nerve-racking. The brevity of conversations, the number of them – it’s not my sweet spot.”
Jeff told Vogue he would often buy clothes for MacKenzie “on the fly”.
He said: “Sometimes I call her and say, ‘What’s your such-and-such size?’ and she says, ‘Why?’ and I say, ‘None of your business!’,” he said. “It delights her.”
In January, Jeff announced on Twitter that he and MacKenzie were getting divorced after 25 years of marriage.
“As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends,” the couple said in a statement posted on Twitter.
They announced in April in separate statements on Twitter that they had finalised their divorce agreement.
MacKenzie wrote they had “finished the process of dissolving” their marriage, and were “looking forward to the next phase as co-parents and friends”.
She also wrote that she was granting Jeff 75 per cent of the Amazon stock co-owned by the pair, and the voting control over the 4 per cent of shares she is retaining.