Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced in a tweet on Wednesday that he and his wife MacKenzie are divorcing after 25 years of marriage. The split comes as a surprise after the couple’s journey to Internet domination.
“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,” Jeff wrote. “Though the labels might be different, we remain a family, and we remain cherished friends.”
The couple, who share four children (three sons and a daughter adopted from China), first met at the investment management firm D.E. Shaw in 1993 in New York City, where he served as vice president. MacKenzie was a research associate and Jeff was the first person to interview her at the firm.
It was at the firm that MacKenzie fell for Jeff, and decided to make the first move.
“My office was next door to his, and all day long I listened to that fabulous laugh,” she recalled to Vogue in 2013. “How could you not fall in love with that laugh?”
For Jeff’s part, he knew exactly what he was looking for: a “resourceful” woman — and MacKenzie fit the bill.
“Nobody knows what you mean when you say, ‘I’m looking for a resourceful woman,’” he told Wired. “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!”
Of their first meeting, Jeff joked to Vogue: “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.”
They were engaged after three months of dating, and married just three months later. Shortly after they wed, the quit their jobs and moved to Seattle to found Amazon.
It was MacKenzie who drove the couple across the country to Seattle as Jeff typed out his business plan, according to the Wall Street Journal. They first lived in a one-bedroom rental in downtown Seattle as the pair worked to make Jeff’s dream a reality.
“I have no business sense whatsoever,” she told Vogue. “But I saw how excited I was.”
MacKenzie, a novelist, once was an assistant to Nobel laureate Toni Morrison while studying at Princeton. She published her first novel, The Testing of Luther Albright, in 2005. And even in the midst of MacKenzie supporting her husband, her love of literature never waned.
“Writing makes her really happy,” Jeff told Vogue of MacKenzie, noting that she would often get up early to write. By the time I come down she will be literally dancing in the kitchen, which the kids and I love.”
And MacKenzie was grateful for his support — “Jeff is my best reader,” she said.
Still, the novel took MacKenzie about a decade to write, as she had to put her writing on hold to care for the couple’s children.
“Writing is such a ‘pretend’ profession,” she told Vogue. “Nobody is counting on you at all. You can’t ‘pretend’ to be a lawyer or a teacher. It takes a lot of grit to continue. Kids, on the other hand, have an urgent need to be taken care of. After the third child, I knew I couldn’t be the kind of parent I wanted to be and continue writing. Those years were just too busy.”
But MacKenzie was able to finish the book, and even published a second titled Traps in 2013.
Over the course of their marriage, the couple embraced their differences.
“Jeff is the opposite of me,” MacKenzie admitted to Vogue. “He likes to meet people. He’s a very social guy. Cocktail parties for me can be nerve-racking. The brevity of conversations, the number of them—it’s not my sweet spot.”
And although MacKenzie has always been a jeans and T-shirt kind of gal, Jeff never failed to lavish her with new duds.
“I pay attention to what she likes to wear, and you’d be amazed by how often things work,” Bezos told Vogue about surprising his wife with new clothes. “Sometimes I call her and say, ‘What’s your such-and-such size?’ and she says, ‘Why?’ and I say, ‘None of your business!’ It delights her. I highly recommend it to any man.”