New Media King?
Up until a few years ago no one knew whom Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com was, today he is well known not only because of Amazon and the countless other products and services he has developed such as the popular Kindle e-reader or the streaming movie service or the huge cloud hosting products and services offered by Amazon. Now Bezos will be the sole owner of The Washington Post and other affiliated publications after the $250 million sale announcement on Monday. The sale is expected to officially close later this year. The purchase was made solely by Bezos and does not involve Amazon.
“I, along with Katharine Weymouth and our board of directors, decided to sell only after years of familiar newspaper-industry challenges made us wonder if there might be another owner who would be better for the Post (after a transaction that would be in the best interest of our shareholders),” said Post Chairman and CEO Donald Graham in a press release. (The Graham family has owned a controlling stake in the Post since the 1930s.) “Jeff Bezos’ proven technology and business genius, his long-term approach and his personal decency make him a uniquely good new owner for the Post.”
The deal includes the Washington Post, as well as the Express newspaper, the Gazette Newspapers, Southern Maryland Newspapers, Fairfax County Times, El Tiempo Latino and Greater Washington Publishing.
The Washington Post Co. will keep Slate magazine, TheRoot.com and Foreign Policy, as well as its Kaplan for-profit education division and its broadcast and cable operations.
In a letter to the Post staff, Bezos wrote:
There will of course be change at The Post over the coming years. That’s essential and would have happened with or without new ownership. The Internet is transforming almost every element of the news business: shortening news cycles, eroding long-reliable revenue sources, and enabling new kinds of competition, some of which bear little or no news-gathering costs. There is no map, and charting a path ahead will not be easy. We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment. Our touchstone will be readers, understanding what they care about – government, local leaders, restaurant openings, scout troops, businesses, charities, governors, sports – and working backwards from there. I’m excited and optimistic about the opportunity for invention.
Only time will tell how this purchase will pan out, but if any indication shows the new Washington Post will certainly be a big portion of the digital news world. If all fails then what’s $250 million to a billionaire anyway?