Dramatic dissolution: What happens when tech billionaires divorce?


Shanahan and Brin (right) during happier times in 2019. The pair are getting a divorce after four years of marriage. — Getty Images/TNS

Lately, tech billionaires have made headlines not for their products or services but for their failing marriages and the unfathomable wealth at stake.

Last month, Google co-founder Sergey Brin filed a petition for the dissolution of his marriage to Nicole Shanahan. According to court filings, Brin, who has a net worth of US$93bil (RM409bil) and is one of the richest persons on the planet, is asking the court to deny his wife spousal support. He isn’t seeking it either.

ALSO READ: Sergey Brin seeks divorce, joining Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos in split

Though much of the court filings have been shrouded in secrecy, Brin’s divorce is speculated to become one of the costliest.

In the meantime, here’s how divorces panned out for the other billionaires in the tech world.

Scott Hassan

Just about everybody knows that Brin and Larry Page are the founders of Google, but there is a “third founder” – Scott Hassan – that has been “rarely acknowledged”, according to a Vanity Fair article.

ALSO READ: Bill and Melinda Gates to divorce with RM600.87bil at stake

It was reported that Hassan, who was the lead programmer when the company was formed, wrote much of the initial coding for the Google website.

Hassan is embroiled in a bitter divorce battle with Allison Huynh, whom he split from in 2014 after 13 years of marriage.

The two headed to court last August for their divorce settlement.

According to a report in the New York Post, Hassan was unhappy that his ex-wife accused him of wanting to only give her a small fraction of their estate, which included tech investments and properties valued at US$1.8bil (RM7.9bil).

Last year, Hassan admitted that he launched a website named after Huynh that contained unflattering information, such as lawsuits that she had filed against another ex-partner.

Huynh later accused Hassan of “divorce terrorism” in a New York Times interview.

Jeff Bezos

In 2019, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos made his divorce settlement official and handed over a 4% stake in the company to MacKenzie Bezos, whom he married before the hugely successful ecommerce firm was formed.

Bezos and ex-wife Mackenzie in 2018. The pair split a year later, with Bezos handing over a 4% stake in Amazon to her. — AFPBezos and ex-wife Mackenzie in 2018. The pair split a year later, with Bezos handing over a 4% stake in Amazon to her. — AFP

The transfer is reported to be worth US$38bil (RM137bil).

ALSO READ: Bezos divorce will cover Amazon’s billions but could be simple

Now the world’s fourth richest woman with a net worth of US$43.6bil (RM192bil), Mackenzie announced that she is committed to giving away half her fortune to the Giving Pledge, an initiative founded by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

Jeff’s net worth is still a whopping US$134.7bil (RM592.7bil).

Bill Gates

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates finalised his divorce from Melinda Gates in 2021 after 27 years of marriage.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates finalised his divorce from Melinda Gates in 2021 after 27 years of marriage. — AFPMicrosoft co-founder Bill Gates finalised his divorce from Melinda Gates in 2021 after 27 years of marriage. — AFP

The Gateses have not made their divorce settlement public, though CNN reported that neither will have to pay spousal support.

As of last year, their combined net worth was US$152bil (RM670bil) and, according to some reports, they are splitting the wealth equally.

A two-year trial period is in place for both to run the charitable organisation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, together.

However, if it doesn’t work out, Melinda will have to resign from her position as co-chair and trustee.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk wears multiple hats – he is the boss of SpaceX, The Boring Company and, one of the most well-known companies, Tesla.

Musk has been married thrice, twice to the same person. — AFPMusk has been married thrice, twice to the same person. — AFP

Musk has been married thrice, twice to the same person. His first marriage to author Justine Wilson ended in 2008 after eight years. They share five children. In a blog post on Insider back in 2010, Musk declared that he provided Wilson with US$20,000 a month for “clothing, shoes and other discretionary items” as part of their divorce settlement.

Musk later married and divorced actress Talulah Riley twice, in 2013 and 2016.

In the first divorce, Riley reportedly received US$4.2mil and for the second divorce, he agreed to pay her US$16mil.

It must seem like small change for Musk, who is worth US$228.4bil (RM1 trillion).

Zhou Yahui

The Chinese billionaire, Zhou Yahui, is the founder of Kunlun Tech, a company known for developing and distributing online games.

In 2016, Zhou was ordered by a Beijing court to hand over 705.4 million shares worth US$1.1bil to Li Qiong in a divorce settlement.

Zhou reportedly first met Li in elementary school, though it is unknown how long the pair have been married.

The divorce has been dubbed one of the most expensive in China.

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Divorce , Elon Musk , Jeff Bezos , Bill Gates

   

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