Update: Following Bezos’ announcement of his divorce from wife MacKenzie, Amazon has a message to the public (and its shareholders in particular): Personal issues aside, Bezos will remain “focused on and engaged in all aspects of the company.”
Put another way: Please don’t sell our stock (we just put up the ‘world’s most valuable company’ plaques).
Given the abysmal performance of the FAANG cohort during Q4, Amazon’s trepidation that the divorce news could hurt the company’s share price is certainly understandable – particularly since the performance of David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital following his divorce has helped cement the conventional wisdom that companies (and asset managers) can struggle when their leaders’ attentions are divided by personal issues.
The divorce is coming at a particularly inopportune time for Amazon, which recently announced its plans to split its HQ2 between New York City and Virginia (with some left over for Nashville). And despite the company’s intimidating market cap, Amazon just became profitable last year after two-and-a-half decades of growth-focused expansion.
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Just days after Amazon finally seized the mantle of world’s most-valuable company – surpassing Microsoft and Apple – CEO Jeff Bezos, currently the world’s richest man with a net worth upwards of $135 billion, has released some surprising – though not entirely unexpected – news: He’s getting a divorce.
Bezos revealed during a tweet on Wednesday that after a trial separation, he and his wife MacKenzie would be seeking a divorce – though he insisted that the two would “remain friends.” The two recently launched a charitable organization to help the homeless and specifically homeless children.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) January 9, 2019
Bezos also said that though they will be exploring new “ventures and adventures” separately, the pair, who have four kids – three sons and a daughter – together, would “remain a family.”
The two have been together for 25 years, which means their union is about as old as Amazon itself, which Bezos founded in 1994. It’s unclear whether MacKenzie and Jeff signed a prenup. Since Washington is a “community property” state, half of all assets accrued in the marriage would go to her. It’s also a “no fault” state, meaning that these rules apply no matter what transpired to end the union.
But assuming for a minute that they didn’t and she successfully wins half of his assets, the 50% expected hit to Bezos’ net worth would lead him to drop from world’s richest to world’s fifth-richest man behind Bernard Arnault.
An even distribution of marital assets would leave MacKenzie a billionaire with just under $70 billion – or roughly $2.8 billion for each year she was married to Bezos.
While the factors behind the divorce are unclear, it’s worth noting that Bezos’ physical transformation from an impish nerd to a body builder with swollen biceps received a lot of media attention last year.
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