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帮国外博彩公司走流水会如何 贝佐斯离婚案和“创始人神话”的破灭
2020-01-08 18:45:28
[摘要] 贝佐斯夫妇宣布离婚,结束长达25年的婚姻。1月9日,亚马逊首席执行官和创始人杰夫·贝佐斯,和他多次获奖的小说家妻子麦肯齐·贝佐斯在推特上宣布离婚。新闻媒体推测,如果贝佐斯和他的妻子平均分配1360亿美元的财产,那么麦肯齐可能成为“世界上最富有的女人”,甚至比像埃隆·马斯克这样的人都富有得多。

帮国外博彩公司走流水会如何 贝佐斯离婚案和“创始人神话”的破灭

帮国外博彩公司走流水会如何,一家公司的成败是由无数个决定所影响的,是许多人共同努力的结果。创始人们的“孤胆英雄”神话已经在很大程度上被揭穿了,但媒体很容易就会回到他们所熟悉的、硅谷最喜爱的叙事手法中去。

贝佐斯夫妇宣布离婚,结束长达25年的婚姻。

1月9日,亚马逊首席执行官和创始人杰夫·贝佐斯,和他多次获奖的小说家妻子麦肯齐·贝佐斯在推特上宣布离婚。公众对于他们离婚的讨论很快集中在对亚马逊公司运营可能产生的影响,以及双方的净资产上。新闻媒体推测,如果贝佐斯和他的妻子平均分配1360亿美元的财产,那么麦肯齐可能成为“世界上最富有的女人”,甚至比像埃隆·马斯克这样的人都富有得多。

TMZ的报道说这对夫妇没有签署过婚前协议。他们居住的华盛顿州实行共同财产制度,这意味着除非贝佐斯夫妇另有协议,否则他们在25年婚姻期间获得的所有财产和债务需要均分。亚马逊记录在案的历史只有24年。但是,正如彭博社指出的那样,把离婚看作是麦肯齐成为全球身价最高女性的机会,这样描述她的处境是有失偏颇的。她已经是全世界最富有的女人了,因为她是全球最富有夫妇的其中一半。

头条新闻到处都是着这样的故事:“麦肯齐·贝佐斯能从离婚当中赚多少?”,猜测“他的财富”会有什么变故。(偶尔会有人抗议说,任何人都不会放过拿到600亿美元的机会。)人们经常轻描淡写或者干脆忽略一个事实,那就是这家具有历史性的公司是麦肯锡帮丈夫一起创办的。正是她同意改变生活轨迹,跨越整个美国,从纽约搬到西雅图,才有了后来在那里创建的亚马逊。这也是媒体在讲述科技公司时所惯用的招数,那就是抹杀很多人在创业阶段的贡献,以突出那个“孤胆英雄”的伟大,而这些沦为“背景”的人很多都是女性。

“无论是历史上还是今天,一个女人想展现自己的能力、价值和智慧,都需要更多的‘证据’——在国家的政治舞台上,希拉里·克林顿或亚历山大·奥西奥·科尔特斯这样的女性每天都在有力地展现这些品质。” 科技史学家、《程序化不平等:英国如何抛弃女性技术人员并在计算机行业中失去优势》的作者马里·希克斯说。“我们在日常生活中谈论从事科技行业的女性时,往往也有这种倾向,无论是在工作、学校、网络或媒体上。”

像亚马逊和苹果这样的商业帝国不是一个人凭空造出来的,它们是运气的帮助和整个团队贡献的产物,其中也包括创始人配偶的贡献。

麦肯齐在1992年从普林斯顿大学毕业后认识了杰夫,并在相对较年轻的对冲基金D.E.Shaw找到了一份工作,Bezos当时已经在此任职。他们于1993年结婚, 1994年就搬家到了西雅图。有报道说,当时还是麦肯齐开的车,而她的先生贝佐斯则坐在副驾驶座上。据2013年出版《一网打尽:杰夫·贝佐斯和亚马逊时代》一书的作者布拉德·斯通说,这对夫妇搬家前已经在曼哈顿上西区过上了富裕的生活。“他们放弃了非常舒适的生活方式和成功的事业,跨越整个国家开始互联网创业。”斯通说,“杰夫能这么做的唯一原因是他有一个非常支持他的配偶。他们当时的做法有着极高的风险,而且这风险是他们两人共同承担的。”

在2010年于普林斯顿大学毕业典礼上发表的演讲中,贝佐斯自己也承认他妻子参与的是一场赌博。“我告诉我妻子麦肯齐,我想辞职去做一件疯狂并且很有可能失败的事情,因为大多数创业公司都会失败。而且,我也不知道失败后会怎样。”他说,“麦肯齐……让我放手去做。”(本文作者请求亚马逊对此发表评论,但没有立即得到回复。)

在西雅图郊区的贝尔维尤,杰夫租了一个车库作为亚马逊第一个总部,麦肯齐在这家公司的起步阶段提供了帮助。斯通在写书时采访了早期的员工,这些人回忆了麦肯齐是如何写支票并帮助他们做财务记录的。《连线》杂志曾在1999年发表过一篇贝佐斯的人物特写,其中写到麦肯齐帮助这家零售巨头拿到了第一份货运合同。随着公司规模的扩大和员工的增加,麦肯齐在亚马逊的日常运营中扮演的角色越来越少,但她仍继续在公司的各项活动中支持贝佐斯。她写了两部小说,分别是2006年获得美国图书奖的《卢瑟·奥布莱特的测试》和2013年出版的《陷阱》。

《时尚》杂志五年前发表过一篇麦肯齐的人物特写,除此以外,她和四个孩子的公众曝光度一直很低。2013年出现了一个值得注意的例外,那是在斯通的书出版之后。麦肯齐本人在亚马逊的网页上留下了一篇一星的评论,质疑这本书的准确性。她还强调了自己在公司中的作用:“在对冲基金D.E.Shaw的时候我就为杰夫工作,他写商业计划时我就在那里。在亚马逊创业时,我和他还有许多其他人一起经历了亚马逊的早期岁月,包括在改装车库、地下室的仓库、充满烧烤味的办公室、圣诞期间繁忙的配送中心以及狭窄局促的会议室中一同奋斗的经历。杰夫和我结婚已经20年了。”

当然,麦肯齐和其他早期亚马逊员工的贡献并不是公司——和贝佐斯——成功的唯一原因。亚马逊还从其他因素中受益,比如多年来成功避免缴纳州销售税,和竞争对手大打价格战等等。该公司的成功还有赖于互联网等科技创新,而这些创新有一部分是由政府的研究人员所带来的。当然,这种情况并不只存在于亚马逊身上。没有政府拨款的数十亿美元,埃隆·马斯克和他的公司特斯拉可能也成不了气候。成就了史蒂夫·乔布斯iPhone的触摸屏技术,技术人员从1940年代就开始研究了,研发过程持续了几十年。

诚然,麦肯齐在亚马逊历史上的作用可能不如互联网的存在那么重要,但这也是很难说的事情。如果她拒绝搬到西雅图,并成为一家互联网创业公司的一员,那么电子商务今天会有什么不同吗?一家公司的成败是由无数个决定所影响的,这些决定有些作用大,有些作用小——而且几乎从来不只是一个人的决定。哪些选择会使天平倾斜不总是很明显。这类孤胆英雄的神话已经在很大程度上被揭穿了,但媒体很容易就会回到他们所熟悉的、硅谷最喜爱的叙事手法中去,甚至尤其是在八卦一场引人注目的离婚的精彩细节时。像亚马逊这样的公司是在很多人的努力下创建并积聚大量财富的的,这些人包括创始人、员工,决策者、纳税人和配偶。也许是时候多谈谈他们做出的这些贡献的实际价值了。

MacKenzie and Jeff Bezos announced they were getting divorced this week after 25 years of marriage.

When award-winning novelist MacKenzie Bezos and her husband Jeff Bezos, the chief executive and founder of Amazon, announced on Twitter Wednesday they were getting divorced, public discussion over the uncoupling quickly centered on the impact it might have on Jeff’s company, and on each sides’ net worth. Were he and his wife to split their estimated $136 billion fortune equally, news articles speculated that MacKenzie could become the “richest woman in the world,” far wealthier than even people like Elon Musk.

TMZ reports that the couple did not have a prenup. Washington, where they live, is a community property state, meaning that all property and debts acquired during the 25-year marriage could be equally split if the Bezoses can’t negotiate an agreement. Amazon, for the record, is 24 years old. But thinking about the divorce as an opportunity for MacKenzie to become the richest woman in the world is a strange way of describing her situation, as Bloomberg points out. She is already the richest woman in the world, because she’s half of the richest couple on Earth.

This week has been full of stories with headlines like “How much could MacKenzie Bezos get in a divorce?” speculating on what will happen to “his wealth.” (Punctuated by the occasional outcry that any human being could stand to receive more than $60 billion at all.) What was often missing, or glossed over, is the fact that MacKenzie helped her husband start his historic company, starting by agreeing to leave their life and move across the country from New York City to Seattle, where Amazon was founded. It’s also part of a wider pattern of how the stories of tech companies get told, which erases the many individuals who help to build them in favor of highlighting the “lone genius” at the helm. Many of the people who fade to the background have been women.

“Both historically and today, it takes a lot more ‘proof’ for a woman to claim competence, importance, and intelligence—something we see powerfully played out on the national political stage every day, from Hillary Clinton to Alexandria Ocasio Cortez,” says Marie Hicks, a technology historian and the author of Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge In Computing. “It seeps into how we talk about women associated with tech on an everyday basis, whether it‘s at work, at school, online, or in the media.”

Empires like Amazon and Apple are not created by a single man in a vacuum; they are the product of a mix of luck and contributions from an entire team—including from a founder’s spouse.

MacKenzie met Jeff after she graduated from Princeton in 1992 and took a job at the relatively new hedge fund D. E. Shaw, where Bezos already worked. In 1993 they married, and by 1994 they were driving to Washington, with MacKenzie reportedly at the wheel of the car. The couple was leaving behind a wealthy existence on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, according to Brad Stone, the author of the 2013 book The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. “They gave up a really comfortable lifestyle and successful careers to move across the country and start something on the internet,” says Stone. “The only reason [Jeff] was able to do that is because he had an extremely supportive spouse. It was an incredible risk and one that they both took on jointly.”

In a 2010 commencement speech he gave at Princeton, Jeff himself acknowledged the gamble his wife had taken. “I told my wife MacKenzie that I wanted to quit my job and go do this crazy thing that probably wouldn’t work since most startups don’t, and I wasn’t sure what would happen after that,” he said. “MacKenzie … told me I should go for it.” (Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

In Bellevue, the Seattle suburb where Jeff rented a garage to be the site of Amazon’s first headquarters, MacKenzie helped get the company off the ground. While researching his book, Stone interviewed early employees who he says recalled how MacKenzie wrote checks and assisted in keeping track of the books. A WIRED profile of Jeff from 1999 noted that she helped negotiate the retail giant’s first freight contracts. As the company grew bigger and hired more staff, MacKenzie played less of a role in Amazon’s day-to-day operations, though she continued to support Jeff at company events. She wrote two novels, The Testing of Luther Albright, which won the American Book Award in 2006, and Traps, which was published in 2013.

Aside from a profile in Vogue published almost five years ago, MacKenzie, as well the four Bezos children, have maintained a low public profile. One noteworthy exception took place in 2013, after Stone’s book came out. MacKenzie personally left a one-star review on its Amazon page, disputing the book’s accuracy. She also emphasized her own role at the company: “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. Jeff and I have been married for 20 years.”

MacKenzie and other early Amazon employees, of course, aren’t the only contributors to the company’s—and Jeff’s—success. Amazon has benefited from other factors, like years of successfully avoiding collecting state sales taxes, undercutting competitors’ prices. The company also relied on external innovations like the internet, developed in part by government researchers. This of course is hardly unique to Amazon. Elon Musk and his company Tesla might not be much without the billions of dollars they have received in government grants. Steve Jobs’ iPhone was made possible by researchers who spent decades developing touchscreen technology, beginning in the 1940s.

Admittedly, MacKenzie’s role in the history of Amazon may not be as crucial as the existence of the World Wide Web. Then again, it’s hard to say for sure. Would e-commerce look any different today if she had refused to move out to Seattle and be part of an internet startup? Countless decisions contribute to the success or failure of a company, some big, some small—and almost never those of just one person. It’s not always obvious which choices tip the scale one way or the other. The lone genius myth has been largely debunked, but it can be all too easy to fall back into the familiar rhythms of Silicon Valley’s favorite narrative devices. Even, or maybe especially, when gossiping about the juicy details of a high-profile divorce. Plenty of people facilitate the creation of corporations like Amazon and the immense wealth that they generate, from inventors to employees to policymakers to taxpayers to spouses. Maybe it’s time to talk more about what all those contributions are actually worth.

原载2019年1月11日《连线》杂志

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