Technology

Jeff Bezos goes from geek to National Enquirer gossip fodder

Jeff Bezos published a picture on Twitter of himself walking with a shiny robot dog. Many in the media (including CNET) dutifully reported on the event, writing playful stories. Silly memes followed.
That brief flash encapsulated Bezos’ public profile for much of his career.
Amazon’s founder and CEO carefully cultivated a persona as a captain of industry, futurist and smartest guy in the room.
Yes, many criticized his ruthless business practices and lack of charitable giving, but most perceived him as a winner and a genius.
This image was helped by his quiet personal life which, at least from afar, seemed free of controversy: longtime marriage, four kids, close relationship with his parents.
In a startling turn of events over the past few weeks, Bezos’ public persona has turned into something entirely different.
After he and his wife MacKenzie announced their divorce over Twitter last month, Bezos’ extramarital affair quickly hit the gossip pages.
Then, late Thursday, Bezos published a lengthy Medium post revealing an alleged blackmail plot by the National Enquirer, a publication with close ties to President Donald Trump.
The paper was threatening to reveal salacious pictures of Bezos if he didn’t back off an investigation into its work.
In quick order, the man who became the world’s richest person after founding a company in his garage in 1994 had every major publication in the US — including the one he personally owns — writing stories about his alleged dick pic.
The days of innocent robot dogs are over.
This change in how the public perceives Bezos creates a drastically new status quo for both the CEO and his company.
Bezos will have to live with being under a microscope from the likes of TMZ for the foreseeable future while he works through his divorce and the apparent extortion plot.
US authorities are reportedly investigating the situation already.
Running a major corporation is difficult in the best of times, so these distractions aren’t welcome as Amazon aggressively grows in new industries and international markets, and works on two new 25,000-employee offices in New York and Virginia.