Divorce is always hard, but it can be particularly messy in a land of huge wealth, alpha personalities and hard-nosed lawyers who dont come cheap
The billionaire founder of Zynga, the San Francisco-based company that makes FarmVille, has found himself in (very messy) DivorceVille.
Mark Pincus, an early investor in Facebook and Twitter who is worth $1.28bn, separated from his wife, Alison Gelb Pincus, the co-founder of home decor business One Kings Lane. The couple married in 2008, a year after Mark founded Zynga, which grew into a $1bn company within four years. There was a prenup, but in filing for divorce Alison has asked the court to nullify the agreement since Marks net worth soared during their marriage.
Divorces are always tough, but they can be particularly messy in Silicon Valley, a land of huge wealth, alpha personalities, hard-nosed negotiators and tricky-to-value assets. Perhaps thats why Evan Spiegel, the 26-year-old billionaire founder of Snapchat, has sought a draconian prenup in advance of his marriage to model Miranda Kerr. His more than $4bn fortune, much of which is locked up in Snap Inc stock, is safe if the love bubble ever bursts.
People get to Silicon Valley and make a ton of money and then they dont want the wife or or husband they married before. Money changes, said Michael Pascoe, an attorney at Silicon Valley Law Offices.
In the valley, what counts as money is complicated. There are six-figure salaries, equity in startups whose value may skyrocket or fizzle, and restricted stock units (RSUs) a popular form of compensation at tech companies like Apple and Google, where an employee is promised stock after certain conditions are achieved, for example working at the company for a specific amount of time or launching a product.
According to California law, anything you own before marriage counts as your separate property. However any asset acquired or income earned during marriage counts as community property and, in the event of a separation, the law requires it to be divided equally between partners.
For this reason, savvy soon-to-weds take out pre-marital agreements outlining a clear divorce plan.