MacKenzie Bezos is an American novelist, journalist and wife of Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com. She was fortunate to pursue her degree in English under the famous writer and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, under whom she continued to train and research after college. Her work has been recognised by the ‘American Book Award’ for ‘Outstanding Literary Achievement’ in 2006. She and her husband have been most supportive of each other’s careers. Her one star review of the book ‘The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon’ by Brad Stone was well appreciated as it brought out the inadequacies in the publication that she felt did not give the correct picture of her husband’s enterprise. As a couple they have supported gay rights and donated large sums of money for research on cancer and neurological disorders. MacKenzie and Jeff are like two opposite poles that attract each other. He is an extrovert, while she would prefer a quiet evening. They have four children and are known to be one of the few richest couples, who are happily married and content with what they have.
Childhood & Early Life
MacKenzie Bezos was born MacKenzie S Tuttle on April 7, 1970 in San Francisco, California, USA. Her father was a financial planner and her mother was a homemaker. She did her high school from Hotchkiss High School, Connecticut, from where she graduated in 1988.
As a child she loved literature and writing stories. Her parents encouraged her by giving her the best of education for someone who wanted to pursue journalism. Her first attempt at writing was at the age of six when she wrote a 142 page manuscript book that she called ‘The Book Worm’.
She went on to do her bachelor’s degree, with honours, in English from Princeton University in 1992. She was one of the brightest students in the class of the famous novelist, Toni Morrison and excelled in creative writing. As per Toni Morrison, MacKenzie was the best student she has ever had in her class.
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MacKenzie started her career doing a variety of jobs including research assistant to Tony Morrison, which was a great learning experience after college. She considers Tony Morrison her Guru.
Her first book, ‘The Testing of Luther Albright’ took her almost ten years to complete. This was the period in which she was helping her husband set up Amazon.com and they were also busy bringing up their four children through their formative years. The book is about the testing times in the life of a devoted father when his job and family come under threat. The book was an instant success and received favourable reviews.
Her second book ‘Traps’ has the makings of a Hollywood thriller. The story revolves around four women from different walks of life who encounter each other on a four day road trip. MacKanzie maintained her style of interweaving a variety a characters in her story.
MacKenzie Bezos has always been very objective in her writing. In 2013, she wrote a review on the book ‘The Everything Store : Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon’ by Brad Stone for ‘Bloomberg Businessweek’ and gave it a one star rating. Her review was titled ‘An Amazon.com Review’, which brought out the inaccuracies and misrepresentations of the work culture in Amazon.com as brought out by Brad Stone. The review received mixed reactions. One of Amazon’s first employees, Shel Kaphan, followed MacKenzie with a four star review of Brad Stone’s account about Amazon.com to contradict her.
Though Brad did not totally agree with her, he said he was grateful for the feedback on his book. Her major observation was that the book suggested that Bezos left DE Shaw to pursue his new idea of online marketing after reading the prize winning novel, ‘The Remains of the Day’, while that was not the case as he read the book much later.
She has been an activist by nature and is known to always support the oppressed. In 2014, she founded the ‘Bystander Revolution’, which is an anti-bullying organization. It has a website that includes hundreds of unscripted videos with students, celebrities and experts talking about how to deal with bullying. Today she is the executive director of the foundation and is actively involved in its functioning.
MacKenzie and Jeff have a family net worth of over $ 32.3 billion between them. Though majority of it may be due to her husband, she is the one who encouraged him to start the business and has always been his driving force.
Her major works as an author include ‘The Testing of Luther Albright’ (2005) and ‘Traps’ (2013).
She also published the single star review of the book ‘The Everything Store : Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon’ by Brad Stone.
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Awards & Achievements
MacKenzie was awarded the 2006 ‘American Book Award’ for ‘Outstanding Literary Achievement’ in recognition of her novel ‘The Testing of Luther Albright’. The book was also named ‘Los Angeles Times’ book of the year.
Her greatest achievement in life has been to find a perfect balance between her profession as a writer and her responsibilities as a mother and wife of one of the richest entrepreneurs in the world.
Family & Personal Life
MacKenzie met Jeff Bezos while working under him at the New York City hedge fund company, DE Shaw. They fell in love and got married in 1993, after a brief courtship. Thereafter, they moved to Seattle, Washington. It was here that her husband started his venture of online marketing and later founded the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon.com. They have three sons and an adopted daughter. In January 2019, the couple announced their intent to separate.
She and her husband have supported gay rights to help an Amazon.com employee with her relationship. They donated $ 2.5 million to a Washington State campaign to legalise same-sex marriage in 2012.
MacKenzie and Jeff are on the board of directors of the Bezos Family Foundation which focuses exclusively on education that was the passion of Jeff’s parents. As a couple they have made several philanthropic footprints by donating huge amounts for medical research on cancer and neurological disorders.
MacKenzie and her husband are poles apart in nature. While he is an extrovert party goer, she prefers to dress casually and be at home with people she knows. Yet they have been most supportive about each other’s careers.
Her husband has been her greatest reader and critique, who has reviewed each of her books before they were published. She faced some criticism for selling her books through her husband’s retail online outlet at relatively low prices, which was countered by her husband by saying a book written with dollars in mind does not deserve to be published.
Many people in the literary fraternity have criticised Amazon.com for providing a self-publishing platform, whereby authors are paid royalties rather than going through the traditional publishing houses. However, as an author, MacKenzie disagrees with them and has maintained that Amazon.com has facilitated both the authors and readers by bringing then on a common platform.
Though MacKenzie’s books have been sold through Amazon.com, she has not got them published through the online enterprise of her husband.