His wife, MacKenzie, was there for the whole journey. In an interview with CBS, she described watching her husband build Amazon up from scratch: “To me, watching your spouse, somebody that you love, have an adventure — what is better than that?” Today, Bloomberg estimates Bezos is worth $104 billion — making him the richest person in history, according to CNN.
Here’s a look inside the marriage of Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos. MacKenzie and Jeff first met at investment management firm DE Shaw.
MacKenzie was a research associate and Jeff was a vice president. Jeff was the first person to interview MacKenzie — a fellow Princeton grad — at the firm.
After she landed the job, they 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 beginning 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. “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.
Then, Jeff told his wife about his business idea. MacKenzie said that, while she’s not a “business person,” she could hear the passion in her husband’s voice when he spoke.
The following year, in 1994, they quit their jobs and traveled to Seattle to found Amazon. MacKenzie became an accountant for Amazon, and was one of the company’s earliest employees.
Until around 1999, the couple lived in a onebedroom rental house in Seattle, according to Wired. Today, they own five houses across the US, in Medina, Washington, Beverly Hills, Van Horn, Texas, DC, and Manhattan.
Jeff is the 25th largest landowner in the US, according to Business Insider.
But, until 2013, MacKenzie still drove their four kids to school and then dropped Jeff off at work in their Honda. Family friend Danny Hillis told Vogue that the Bezos’ “are such a normal, close-knit family, it’s almost abnormal.”
The family also adheres to a fairly normal routine. The Bezos family reportedly starts off the day with a healthy breakfast. To spend more time with the family, Jeff never schedules early-morning meetings at Amazon.
When it comes to educating their four kids, MacKenzie told Vogue the couple has tried a range of strategies, including, “off-season travel, kitchen-science experiments, chicken incubation, Mandarin lessons, the Singapore math program, and lots of clubs and sports with other neighborhood kids.”
MacKenzie — who was an assistant to Toni Morrison in college — is now a novelist. When she needs to write, Bezos retreats to her own small apartment, where she writes until it’s time to pick the kids up from school. MacKenzie told Vogue her husband is her “best reader.”
He’d often drop other plans to read and carefully review manuscripts of her first novel “The Testing of Luther Albright.” For MacKenzie’s second novel, “Traps,” she decided to not share her work with her husband until was finished.
“The sooner I finished, the sooner I could share it with him and talk about these characters who had been taking up so much space in my head,” she told Vogue.
But still, MacKenzie didn’t become a part of Amazon’s new publishing imprint. “We are calling her the fish that got away,” Jeff told Vogue.
MacKenzie told Vogue that their contrasting personalities complement each other. “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,” she said.
They’re so in tune that Jeff will often buy clothes for MacKenzie on the fly, he told Vogue. “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.”
And the Amazon CEO has said he wraps up the day with a chore that his wife appreciates: washing the dishes. “I’m pretty convinced it’s the sexiest thing I do,” he told Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget.