By now, the entire world knows about the intimate, personal photos that Jeff Bezos apparently sent via text message to his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez.
And the world knows this because Bezos announced it in a Medium post in which he accused the company that owns the National Enquirer of attempted blackmail and extortion.
In the post itself, Bezos did two super-important things:
- He completely disarmed the National Enquirer and turned the tables on it, by revealing everything he says it threatened to reveal about him -- and using its own words and emails.
- He acknowledged, with one critical sentence, that he understands the real danger that this whole thing presents to Amazon.
To be clear, the danger has nothing to do with Bezos's embarrassment, or damage to his personal reputation, or the damage to his family relationships. The photos at issue are apparently personal, private, and sexual. But honestly, who cares?
They're the back and forth between a 55-year-old man and his 49-year-old girlfriend.
And as for the end of Bezos's marriage to MacKenzie Bezos, well, it's sad -- but that was going to happen anyway. People might laugh a bit or disapprove of him for having an affair. But there's no real danger there.
Instead, the danger is about the challenge this whole thing poses to Amazon.
That's why Bezos included a key passage in his Medium post, describing how he started the investigation into how the Enquirer obtained his private texts to begin with:
To lead my investigation, I retained Gavin de Becker. I've known Mr. de Becker for twenty years, his expertise in this arena is excellent, and he's one of the smartest and most capable leaders I know.
I asked him to prioritize protecting my time since I have other things I prefer to work on and to proceed with whatever budget he needed to pursue the facts in this matter. [emphasis added]
That last sentence -- those last 33 words -- is the real important news here.
Ask any successful people what they think the most valuable resource in the world is, and they won't tell you it's money. It's time.
In this case, it's time that Bezos is dedicating to fighting with the Enquirer, or figuring out whether a government entity was involved with hacking his texts, or whether the whole thing is just juicy gossip "journalism" or part of a bigger feud with the president of the United States.
Every hour, every second Bezos spends on that is time he isn't spending on the gargantuan company he built from nothing.
Of course, he protests a bit too much with that line. This is the only Medium post I think he's ever written. It runs about 2,200 words -- nearly four times as long as this article.
He has only 186 tweets on his Twitter profile; one of them is about this scandal. He writes an annual letter to shareholders, and I'm sure has written op-eds before. But otherwise, how often does he take the time to write?
He is distracted -- clearly. And not just by this ridiculous scandal, but by having the specter of perhaps the biggest, messiest divorce in American history hanging over his head.
For Bezos, it's not only the end of a spousal relationship but the start of an era in which he owns only half of Amazon, half of Blue Origin, and half of The Washington Post.
The problem is, as Bezos well knows, he cannot afford to give only half the attention that his business leadership roles require. That's the real danger that he, and everyone who cares about Amazon, needs to keep in check.