How Mackenzie Scott built her net worth

Though Mackenzie Scott might have previously been best known as Mrs Amazon, living in the long shadow of her ex-husband Jeff Bezos, she’s proving to be a force to be reckoned with. A career novelist, with a billion-dollar net worth, Mackenzie Scott is one of the leading philanthropists of this decade, having given away approximately $12 billion to over 1200 organisations within a span of 3 years.

mackenzie scott net worth
Updated on September 5, 2022

Mackenzie Scott currently commands a net worth of $21,7 billion and is ranked #37 on Bloomberg’s Billionaires’ Index.

Early Life and The Makings of a Novelist

Mackenzie Scott Tuttle was born on April 7, 1970, to Jason and Holiday Tuttle in San Francisco California. Her father was a financial planner and her mother was a homemaker. She attended the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut and developed a passion for writing from a very young age, penning her first novel The Book Worm at the mere age of 6.

She graduated from Hotchkiss in 1988 and went on to study English at Princeton University. There, she had to work more than 30 hours a week over her regular course load to make ends meet, owing to her family’s financial struggles. However,  efforts paid off when she landed Nobel laureate Toni Morrison as her thesis advisor during her senior year who later described her as one of the best students she’d had in her career.

From Rags to Riches

After graduating from Princeton in 1992, Scott moved to New York and found a job with D. E. Shaw, a hedge fund. It was here that she met Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos and the couple got married in September 1993.

While working at Shaw, Bezos recognised the true growth potential of the internet and pitched a business plan for an online bookstore to his wife. The duo left the company in 1994 and started the business from their garage in Seattle. This business would later go on to become one of the largest multinational tech companies, Amazon.

In 2019, the couple announced their separation, after a 25-year marriage. The divorce was finalised in April, 2019, and it left Scott with 25% shares in Amazon stocks – in other words, a 4% stake in the company.

The Giving Away Pledge and Early Philanthropic Endeavours

In May 2019, Scott signed The Giving Away Pledge – a philanthropic campaign founded by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett where the ultra-wealthy pledged to donate the majority of their wealth towards various charitable causes. She publicly announced her initial phase of donations to 116 nonprofit organisations through a medium post in July 2020. Worth approximately $1.7 billion, her donations were focused in the following areas:

  • Racial Equity – $586,700,000
  • LGBTQ+ Equity – $46,000,000
  • Gender Equity – $133,000,000
  • Economic Mobility – $399,500,000
  • Empathy and Bridging Divides – $55,000,000
  • Functional Democracy – $72,000,000
  • Public Health – $128,300,000
  • Global Development – $130,000,000
  • Climate Change – $125,000,000

 

Among these organisations were several minority institutions and historically black colleges and universities(HBCUs) which received donations over $800 million. Scott partnered up with the Bridgespan Group to identify and select nonprofits predominantly headed by minorities, people of colour, women, or LGBTQ people.

However, the 2020 Covid pandemic led to a 28% surge in Amazon’s share prices resulting in a jump in the valuation of her holdings from $37.6 billion in 2019 to approximately $62 billion towards the end of 2020. According to Bloomberg, her $68 billion net worth at the time made her the 12th wealthiest person in the world.

Following the surge in her wealth, on December 16, 2020, the New York Times reported that Scott had further given away over $4 billion in the last 4 months, making her one of the largest private charitable distributors of 2020. These donations were structured as “unrestricted gifts”  and were extended to 384 organisations across the United States and Puerto Rico. According to Scott, the primary goal of these donations was to support organisations that were struggling amidst the unprecedented economic fallout caused by the pandemic.

Scott announced her third round of donations in June 2021, through a medium post entitled “Seeding by Ceding”. There, she highlighted that she’d given away over $2.7 billion to 286 high-impact yet often overlooked and underfunded organisations in the first quarter of the year. This marked her first large-scale donations following her remarriage to Dan Jewett in March. In addition to the donations, Scott also launched a gender equality challenge along with Melinda Gates in the same month. The four winners of the contest were awarded $10 million and each finalist was awarded an additional $4 million.

Setting an Example

In December, Scott announced her decision that she would no longer disclose her donation numbers going forward and would instead leave it up to the beneficiary organisations to decide if they wished to share, to turn the media spotlight towards their accomplishments rather than her own.

On March 22, 2022, Habitat for Humanity International(HFHI) announced that they had received a $436 million gift from Mackenzie Scott. This marked her single-largest publicly disclosed donation since 2019. HFHI stated that the donation would significantly help them scale up their projects and improve “equitable access to affordable housing” across the United States.

On March 24, 2022,  Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit that provides sexual healthcare across the US, announced a $275 million donation from Scott, making it their single largest donation since its inception. In May, the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America also announced a $122 million gift from Scott. The organization empowers youth by creating and supporting one-on-one mentorship programs.

She shared the full list of 465 gift recipients totalling $3,863,125,000 through another Medium post on March 23, 2020.

Looking to the future, Scott has asked her team to streamline the organisation’s vetting process in order to make the donation process faster. Her no-caveat donations have truly set an example to the world on how even the wealthiest do not have all the answers and have also brought several under-appreciated organisations to the limelight.

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