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Silicon Valley Investors, This Should Worry You

Op-ed: The Bezos divorce surely won't be the last. Time to disclose pre-nups?
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2019 9:44 AM CST
A 2012 photo of Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos.   (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, File)

(Newser) – In the wake of the Bezos divorce announcement, two colliding truths should be on the radar of Silicon Valley investors, writes James Stewart in the New York Times. First, the divorce rate in California is about 60%, meaning that the Bezos' split surely won't be the last among the tech world's elite. "To put it more explicitly: What would happen if Mark Zuckerberg and his wife filed for divorce?" asks Stewart. He's not casting aspersions on their marriage, just raising a hypothetical question that dovetails with the second big truth. These days, the founders of many big tech companies—think Google, Facebook, Groupon, and Snap—have special classes of shares that give them supreme control over their direction of their firms. So what happens to that control if they divorce?

Stewart raises the prospect that it's time for CEOs to disclose their pre-nup agreements. "There's no question it's in the best interests of shareholders," an expert on the subject at Columbia University tells him. Take the Bezos case, for instance. All signs so far point to an amicable split. But MacKenzie Bezos jointly owns 16% of Amazon with Jeff Bezos and theoretically could cause havoc if she were to sell her shares or push for strategic changes in the company. As a matrimonial lawyer says: "When they start out amicably, you hold out some hope that they’ll stay that way, but in my experience it only gets worse.” Click for the full piece. (Read more about MacKenzie Bezos, who happens to be a novelist.)

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