Mackenzie Bezos made her solo debut in the billionaires club in 2019, after she divorced Jeff Bezos. She instantly became not just the second-largest shareholder of Amazon, but also one of the wealthiest women in the world. She's the 4th richest woman in the world. Her stake in Amazon is four percent of the total shares in the massive online retailer, which comes to 19.7 million shares valued, as of this writing, at about $48 billion. And while it would be easy (and true) to say she became this way because of her divorce, that's not quite the whole story. She's never stood in the shadow of her ex and that's especially true now that they are divorced after 26 years of marriage.
MacKenzie Scott Tuttle was born on April 7, 1970, in San Francisco, California. She graduated from the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut in 1988. She got her bachelor's degree in English at Princeton, where she studied under author Toni Morrison. Of MacKenzie, Morrison said she was "one of the best students I've ever had in my creative writing classes." She graduated with highest honors in 1992. She got a job as a research associate at hedge fund D.E. Shaw. Her boss was a young man named Jeff Bezos. They both were Princeton alums and Jeff was a vice president at the firm. He was the first person to interview her at D.E. Shaw. MacKenzie and Bezos had offices near each other. She could hear him laughing all day long and once told Vogue that she fell in love with his laugh. MacKenzie made the first move and asked Jeff out. They went to lunch. Three months later they were engaged and six months after their first date they were married.
After they were married, Jeff told his new wife about his idea for Amazon. MacKenzie could hear the passion in his voice when he talked about it. Within a year the couple had quit their jobs, packed their bags, and set out on a cross country trip to Seattle during which Jeff wrote the business plan for Amazon. MacKenzie found that watching her husband on this adventure to found his own company was deeply satisfying. She became one of Amazon's earliest employees when she took a job as an accountant. The couple has four children: three biological sons and a daughter they adopted from China. MacKenzie is the author of The Testing of Luther Albright, which won an American Book Award in 2006.
When Jeff and MacKenzie got married, they didn't have two pennies to rub together. In January 2019, Jeff and MacKenzie announced that they were divorcing. On April 4, 2019, the divorce was finalized, with Jeff Bezos keeping 75% of the couple's Amazon stock and MacKenzie getting $35.6 billion in Amazon stock. The transfer brought Jeff Bezos's Amazon stake, formerly at 16 percent, down to 12 percent, according to regulatory filings.
The ink was barely dry on her divorce decree and MacKenzie did one thing her billionaire ex still hasn't done: she joined the Giving Pledge. The Giving Pledge was launched in 2010 by Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffett. They were lauded at the time for being a new breed of billionaires committed to making global philanthropy a priority. The Giving Pledge encourages the world's billionaires to make bigger, more public giving a priority earlier in their lives. When she announced her participation in the Giving Pledge, she said:
"My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort and care. But I won't wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty."