In short: no. I’ve been divorced, and broadly it mostly sucks and you lose different friend groups and all that. Eventually things pivot and adjust, and you find new friend groups, and while things are different, there’s a weird nostalgia to your late-30s if you’ve been divorced, and I think I’m generally good with words and still can never find the right ones to describe what it’s like to basically replace one group of people (and a person) with another group of people (and a person). It’s one of the weirdest things you will ever go through, honestly.
Now, when I got divorced virtually no money changed hands, because there wasn’t any money. In the two high-profile divorces of semi-recent vintage, that being the Seattle Separations of Bezos and Gates, there’s a lot of money on the table. Mackenzie Scott took hers, started giving away tons ($4B in four months), and then moved on and got married to a Seattle private school teacher, which is about as far from Bezos as one could realistically get, you’d imagine.
We don’t know yet what Melinda Gates is going to do, although early-stage stuff is saying they will run the Foundation together, etc. I don’t expect her on a yacht with Future anytime soon, but after 2020, we really have no idea what’s happening anymore and money is fake, so maybe her and Pete Davidson will indeed start up this summer.
The divorces obviously seem different: Bezos got captivated by Hollywood and it seems like he wanted a flashier life, which Lauren Sanchez helps with him. We don’t know what happened with the Gateses, but it could be older kids + constantly hearing that your husband is micro-chipping the world + nothing left to talk about = divergent lives.
But when money is on the table and you’re talking about world-building titans, you need to go back to a little bit about what we know of workaholics.
Rich American men, by comparison, are the workaholics of the world. They put in significantly longer hours than both fully employed middle-class Americans and rich men in other countries. Between 1985 and 2010, the weekly leisure time of college-educated men fell by 2.5 hours, more than any other demographic. “Building wealth to them is a creative process, and the closest thing they have to fun,” the economist Robert Frank wrote.
Right, right. That seems very true to me from those types of guys that I’ve observed.
So, could divorce now be a badge of honor among the workaholic world-building class? “To scale the biz, I had to break a few eggs along the way.” “Relationships fading is a cost of business. I wouldn’t change anything.” Etc.
Consider: there’s been a bunch of billionaire-level divorces, right? And if you look at the richest men in the world presently, look at their divorce history:
- Bezos: D’ed
- Musk: D’ed
- Arnault: D’ed
- Gates: D’ed
- Zuck: Not yet!
- Buffett: Not D’ed, but did have an open marriage
- Ellison: D’ed FOUR TIMES
- Page: Nope.
- Brin: D’ed
The common narrative here is “Building a company is hard, and stressful, and that’s why drives these marriages apart.” But isn’t there a sliver of you that thinks it’s now almost a good, virtuous thing to have sacrificed a woman for more market share? Remember: a good chunk of these guys are sociopaths.