How The Bezos’ Divorce Reinforces The “Lone Genius” Myth

One of last week’s biggest announcement was about a famous couple divorce. But not any couple – the richest couple on Earth.

If you’ve ever shopped at Amazon and thanked God for the amazing discounts, you should praise the Bezos’ for making that possible. Not only Jeff Bezos, but also MacKenzie Bezos and all the company’s employees.

As we can see in many other tech companies’ stories, it is tremendously common to create and see “lone geniuses” tales. Take Elon Musk and Steve Jobs for example. Despite acknowledging their creativity and business know-how, both of them have had great help and guidance to make Tesla and Apple happen.

If it wasn’t for the billions of dollars that Tesla received in government grants, would the electric cars company still be open? For Apple, would Steve Job have released iPhones’ if it wasn’t for the researchers who spent decades developing touchscreen technology?

The same misrepresentation happens with Amazon – but this time it is causing serious hassle in the financial market. Unfortunately, investors of the largest retail organization are blaming the Bezos divorce for clearing Jeff away from the richest-man-on-Earth position. Now that they’ve split up, MacKenzie and Jeff will divide their $136 billion patrimony equally, what is seen by many as unfair.

What is actually unfair is MacKenzie’s representation in Amazon’s successful story. When in 1994 Jeff Bezos asked his wife to move to Seattle to start a company on the Internet (which was not so popular nor stable at the time), MacKenzie gave him total support, even though they were married for only a year.

Talking about how her role is frequently diminished, MacKenzie states a review of Jeff Bezo’s biography by Brad Stone: “I worked for Jeff at D. E. Shaw, I was there when he wrote the business plan, and I worked with him and many others represented in the converted garage, the basement warehouse closet, the barbecue-scented offices, the Christmas-rush distribution centers, and the door-desk filled conference rooms in the early years of Amazon’s history.”

However, it is much easier, and much more profitable, to blame a company’s success on one single person. Through stereotypes as “genius”, many organization’s collaborative stories are vanished in order to enlighten the founder or the CEO. Doesn’t the story turn unbelievable when you see a simple man creating a large empire such as Amazon all by himself?

Part of a common pattern of how tech companies’ stories are told, it’s not surprising to see how MacKenzie was erased from the creation of Amazon’s supremacy. The couple’s patrimony belongs to Jeff as much as it belongs to her. And it also belongs to the millions of employees that made the company happen.