Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos isn’t the most outgoing CEO. So when his wife MacKenzie used the website to blast a book about her husband and his online shopping empire it made headlines in the New York Post and elsewhere.
Every author who writes a book has to be prepared for a bit of criticism. But when Bloomberg Businessweek contributor, Brad Stone saw a review of his “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon” that gave his book just one star he was unprepared for who wrote the review: MacKenzie Bezos. Mrs. Jeff Bezos wrote, among other things, “Everywhere I can fact check from personal knowledge, I find way too many inaccuracies, and unfortunately it casts doubt over every episode in the book.”
According to a New York Post report, MacKenzie was miffed about numerous inaccuracies but in particular an anecdote Stone presented in his book that had Bezos thinking about whether to leave a “cushy” job at a hedge fund firm D.E. Shaw to pursue a new career after having read the prize-winning novel, The Remains of the Day. Mackenzie, an award-winning novelist in her own right said hubby Jeff didn’t read the book “until a year after he started Amazon.” Exactly why this inaccuracy, assuming that’s what it is, was so egregious, she didn’t say.
In his own blog for Bloomberg Businessweek, Stone retorted: “Bezos said that he married MacKenzie after searching for someone tenacious enough to break him out of a Third World prison. By that standard, I got off easy. Mrs. Bezos mostly took me to task for what she perceived were subtle biases in my story. I’ll own up to that, though my slant is hardly political or personal. Nor is it particularly unique.”
No matter how hard we strive for objectivity, writers are biased toward tension—those moments in which character is forged and revealed. I set out to tell the incredible story of how Amazon grew from three people in a garage to a company that employs 100,000 people around the world. It wasn’t an easy journey for the company, and for many Amazon employees, it wasn’t always enjoyable. It’s precisely that tension—between sacrifice and success—that makes Amazon and Bezos so compelling. Like any company, there were countless moments of dull harmony, and who knows how many hours of unremarkable meetings along the way. You could argue that many of those define Bezos and the company more than the strategic risks and moments of friction. MacKenzie Bezos does. I happen to disagree.”
Captains of industry, even Silicon Valley uberCEOs, are often thin skinned about very little, which is why Mrs. Bezos likely took up the cudgel on behalf of her aggrieved husband. Moral: Hell hath no fury like that of an important CEO’s spouse. Now that Bezos owns the Washington Post newspaper we shall see if he intends to use it as an even more formidable weapon.