WASHINGTON • Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos and wife MacKenzie Bezos have decided to divorce after a long trial separation, Mr Bezos said yesterday in a joint statement by the couple on Twitter.
"We want to make people aware of a development in our lives. As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends," the tweeted statement says.
"We've had such a great life together as a married couple, and we also see wonderful futures ahead, as parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects, and as individuals pursuing ventures and adventures," the tweet says.
"Though the labels might be different, we remain a family, and we remain cherished friends," it says.
Mrs MacKenzie Bezos, a novelist, is often described as having played a pivotal role in the Amazon origin story by supporting Mr Bezos' move off Wall Street and into e-commerce. Her novels include The Testing Of Luther Albright and Traps.
The couple met when they both worked at hedge fund D.E. Shaw, and they married in 1993. He founded Amazon a year later.
In an interview with Vogue, Mrs Bezos said that she and Mr Bezos complemented each other, thanks to their contrasting personalities.
Mr Bezos, 54, is worth US$137 billion (S$185 billion), according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world's 500 wealthiest individuals.
A divorce could reshape the wealth rankings. If the couple split their fortune equally, it could leave Mrs Bezos, 48, with US$69 billion, making her the world's richest woman.
It could also make Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates the planet's richest person once again.
The state of Washington - where Amazon is based and the couple have a home - is a community property state, which means all property and debt acquired during a marriage "will be divided equitably by the court if the couple cannot negotiate an agreement", according to the website of McKinley Irvin, a family law firm in the region.
Amazon again became Wall Street's most valuable company this week, surpassing Microsoft.
From modest beginnings as an online bookseller, Mr Bezos and Amazon branched out into almost every product category available, ending up taking on established retail giants such as Walmart.
Under Mr Bezos, Amazon launched the Kindle e-reader and revolutionised the way books are distributed and read.
In November, Amazon picked America's financial and political capitals for massive new offices, with plans to create more than 25,000 jobs in both New York City and an area just outside Washington.