JEFF & MACKENZIE BEZOS BUILDING THEIR SOLO EMPIRES

Femi Bamigbetan

April 6, 2019

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Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos recently started a $2 billion anti-homelessness fund, and speculation about what their divorce will mean for Amazon is already swirling. Their announcement also sparked immediate questions about the potential division of their vast fortune: Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with a net worth estimated at $137 billion. Regardless of the details of their relationship, they have every reason to portray themselves as friends and partners for the sake of shareholders, grantees, and the millions of Americans watching their every move.

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At this point, the story of the Bezos divorce has become a political one, with allegations of extortion by a company linked to President Trump. But it’s also a story about relationships, and how they form and dissolve in America today — especially when the people involved are rich and powerful.

A source close to the Bezoses, who asked to remain anonymous, told Vox that they had separated before Jeff Bezos began dating Sanchez, the reported broadcaster who is said to have come between the couple.

TMZ also reported that Bezos and his wife were already separated when his relationship with Sanchez began.

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“He and Mackenzie have been working on this for a long time, and they worked very hard to fix it,” the source close to the couple told Vox. “Then they became separated, and then Jeff started dating Lauren.”

The Bezoses wrote their statement together, the source said, and it should be taken at face value.

“Jeff remains focused and engaged on all things Amazon,” Drew Herdener, an Amazon spokesperson, told Vox.

Still, the couple did have an incentive to present a united front. MacKenzie Bezos was, by many accounts, instrumental in the founding of Amazon. As Vox’s Gaby Del Valle notes, the two met when they worked at New York hedge fund D.E. Shaw. When they drove to Seattle to start Amazon, Mackenzie Bezos was reportedly behind the wheel.

According to a 1999 Wired interview, she negotiated Amazon’s first freight contracts — from the in-house Starbucks in a Barnes & Noble.

“After a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends,” the statement read. “We’ve had such a great life together as a married couple, and we also see wonderful futures ahead, as parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects, and as individuals pursuing ventures and adventures

Whatever the case, Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos are now embarking on a distinctly American, distinctly early-21st-century journey. Today, being a power couple doesn’t necessarily end when couple-dom  does, and high-profile spouses may have to maintain a relationship — or at least the semblance of one — to maintain their status.

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