Amazon.com Inc founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos, the world's richest man, and wife MacKenzie Bezos are divorcing after 25 years of marriage, the couple said on Twitter on Wednesday (Jan 9).
Jeff, 54, has a fortune that has soared as high as US$160 billion (S$216 billion) thanks to his stake in Amazon, which again, became Wall Street's most valuable company this week, surpassing Microsoft Inc.
The laws in Washington state that any assets that were gathered during a couple's marriage will be split. One thing that could impact the billionaire's net worth is a prenuptial agreement. Fortune reported that it is unknown if the couple had one or if some other arrangements were made during the course of the marriage.
But even if Jeff's net worth is halved following the divorce, he’ll still be one of the world’s richest people. And if Amazon’s stock continues to perform well as it has for the past several years, he could climb his way up the list again, reported Fortune.
CREDITED MACKENZIE FOR HER SUPPORT
Jeff has credited MacKenzie, 48, for her support when he uprooted the young couple from New York to Seattle, so he could launch the online bookseller that grew into one of the world's largest retailers. MacKenzie, a Princeton graduate who is now a novelist, did accounting for Amazon for its first year after it was founded in 1994.
The couple decided to divorce after a long period of "loving exploration" and trial separation, and expect to continue as partners in joint ventures and projects, according to the joint statement.
Reuters was unable to determine any further financial details of the planned divorce.
Amazon did not immediately return requests for comment about the status of the Bezos ownership stake or what impact the divorce might have on the company.
MacKenzie Bezos met her husband when interviewing for a job at a New York hedge fund, according to a 2013 profile in Vogue. The two were engaged after three months of dating and married three months after that, according to the magazine. The pair have four children.
Speaking at an event in Berlin last April, Jeff said MacKenzie's support was instrumental when he founded Amazon in 1994, and that she did the accounting for the company in its first year.
"When you have loving and supportive people in your life, like MacKenzie, my parents, my grandfather, my grandmother, you end up being able to take risks," he said at the event.
USING HIS WEALTH
Jeff in September committed US$2 billion through the Bezos Day One Fund to helping homeless families and starting pre-schools for low-income communities. He had solicited ideas on Twitter in 2017 for ways to donate some of his wealth.
Last January, the couple donated US$33 million to fund college scholarships for US high schoolers with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, an Obama-era program protecting young immigrants brought to the United States illegally by their parents.
In 2012, they donated US$2.5 million to a Washington-state campaign to legalise same-sex nuptials there.
Amazon shares were down 0.2 per cent in midday trading on Wednesday. The divorce should have no material impact on the company and its shares, said Thomas Forte, an analyst at DA Davidson & Co.
From modest beginnings, Amazon branched out into almost every product category, taking on established retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Under Jeff, Amazon launched the Kindle e-reader and revolutionised the way books are distributed and read. The company has also been a pioneer in cloud computing.
In November, Amazon picked America's financial and political capitals for massive new offices, branching out from its home base in Seattle with plans to create more than 25,000 jobs in both New York City and just outside Washington, DC.
Jeff also founded space company Blue Origin in 2000, and is funnelling US$1 billion a year of his own fortune into pulling it out of start-up mode and into production.
He also owns the Washington Post, which has been a target of criticism from US President Donald Trump.