MacKenzie Scott, previously known as MacKenzie Bezos, is much more than just the former spouse of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. She is an American novelist, philanthropist, and a powerful force for positive change. As of 2023, her net worth stands at an astonishing $35.6 billion, making her the third-wealthiest woman in the United States and the 47th-wealthiest individual in the world, owing to her 4% stake in Amazon, the company her ex-husband founded. Her journey is marked by significant achievements in literature and a relentless commitment to giving back to society.
MacKenzie Scott's literary career took off with her debut novel, "The Testing of Luther Albright," published in 2005. This novel won her the prestigious American Book Award in 2006, a remarkable achievement in the literary world. Her second novel, "Traps," followed in 2013.
Her creative talents and dedication to her craft are evident in the decade it took her to write "The Testing of Luther Albright." This lengthy process was marked by her simultaneous roles as a writer, a mother raising three children, and her active involvement in helping Jeff Bezos build Amazon. Her former teacher, Nobel Laureate in Literature Toni Morrison, described her as "one of the best students I've ever had in my creative writing classes."
MacKenzie Scott Tuttle, born on April 7, 1970, in San Francisco, California, was raised in an environment that valued education. She graduated from the prestigious Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut, in 1988. Later, in 1992, she earned her bachelor's degree in English from Princeton University. It was at Princeton that she had the privilege of studying under Toni Morrison.
After college, she worked as a research assistant for Morrison during the writing of the novel "Jazz." Her commitment to literature and learning was evident from the very beginning.
MacKenzie's life took a momentous turn when she joined D. E. Shaw, a hedge fund in New York City, in an administrative role. It was there that she met Jeff Bezos, who was then a colleague. Their connection led to a marriage in 1993 and the subsequent move to Seattle in 1994, where they founded Amazon. MacKenzie Scott played a significant role in Amazon's early days, contributing to naming the company, developing the business plan, handling accounts, and managing early orders. Her negotiating skills even secured Amazon's first freight contract.
However, after 1996, she decided to take a step back from the business to focus on her family and her literary pursuits, marking a significant change in her career trajectory.
In addition to her literary accomplishments, MacKenzie Scott is widely known for her unwavering commitment to philanthropy. In May 2019, she signed the Giving Pledge, a charitable-giving campaign, committing to giving away most of her wealth to charitable causes. She exceeded all expectations by embarking on a rapid and significant philanthropic journey.
In 2020, MacKenzie Scott announced donations of $1.7 billion to 116 non-profit organisations, with a strong focus on racial equality, LGBTQ+ equality, democracy, and climate change. Her generosity extended to colleges and universities, with gifts surpassing $800 million, supporting historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-serving institutions, tribal colleges and universities, and others.
By December 2020, her total donations reached $4.15 billion to 384 organisations, with a specific emphasis on addressing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and tackling systemic inequities.
What sets MacKenzie Scott's philanthropic efforts apart is her radical approach. She believes in giving away her wealth quickly and without much fanfare. Her primary focus is on empowering organisations with strong leadership teams and a proven track record. She is particularly concerned about communities facing high food insecurity, racial inequity, and poverty. Her swift and unrestricted giving approach has shifted the spotlight from the giver to the nonprofits she supports.
MacKenzie Scott's gifts have had a profound impact on the organisations she supports. Her philanthropic efforts have made fundraising easier for many, and her donations have been leveraged to attract other donors.
In addition to her contributions to U.S.-based organisations, MacKenzie Scott has made significant donations to organisations in Kenya, India, Brazil, Micronesia, and Latin America.
MacKenzie Scott's philanthropy is rewriting the rulebook of traditional giving. Her rapid and unrestricted approach is challenging the norms of philanthropy, putting the focus on those who need help and those who can create positive change. As of her most recent update in March 2023, she is opening doors for community-focused nonprofits through a generous "open call" for donations.
MacKenzie Scott's commitment to philanthropy is evident in her actions, not just her words. Her legacy will be marked by her radical approach to giving and her transformational impact on the organisations she supports. As she continues her journey of giving, her contributions will leave an indelible mark on the world of philanthropy and inspire others to make a difference.