Most people believe they have little in common with Jeff Bezos and his estranged wife MacKenzie, who recently announced that they're divorcing. The couple is reportedly worth $140 billion. Jeff Bezos is considered the wealthiest man in the world. After the divorce is final, MacKenzie could well be the wealthiest woman on the planet.
However, like any divorcing couple with a business, the Bezos' split is worrying Amazon shareholders and employees -- many of whom are here in Texas. Amazon has nine fulfillment centers in our state, as well as a wind farm. As one business law professor says, "How strong Amazon is as a company will determine how big an impact this has."
The Bezoses have been married for 25 years. That's just a year longer than Amazon has been in business. MacKenzie hasn't been involved in the Amazon empire as much as she was in the early days when it was an online bookstore. However, it's not yet known how much of the company she'll get in the divorce or how much -- if any -- say she'll want in the running of the company or any of Bezos' other business interests, such as The Washington Post. Jeff Bezos reportedly owns just 16 percent of Amazon, but that's 16 percent of an $800 billion company.
The couple reportedly has no prenuptial agreement. There's no word of any postnuptial agreement, either.
A corporate governance expert says that another danger when a business owner divorces is that they're distracted from running the company. A company spokesperson reassured the public recently that "Jeff remains very much focused on and engaged in Amazon."
Of course, long gone are the days when Amazon was any sort of "mom-and-pop" operation. It has a number of people in executive positions to take up any slack as their leader negotiates what could be history's largest divorce settlement. Some of these executives have been with the company for many years.
At least publicly -- despite reports of infidelity -- the couple is splitting amicably. This could help minimize the negative impact on Amazon or any of Bezos' other corporate ventures.
If you have a business, whether your spouse or spouse-to-be has any ownership or an operational role or not, it's important to protect that business with either a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. This can save considerable time, money and turmoil if the marriage ends.