News & Opinion

Amazon boss buys Washington Post

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has bought The Washington Post Company for $250 million, making him the sole owner of the publisher.

The all-cash sale makes Mr Bezos the owner of the Washington Post newspaper, website and a number of regional papers. Not included in the sale were the company’s headquarters in downtown Washington and a number of other properties and news outlets, which will be renamed.

The businesses retained include Kaplan, a subsidiary of the company and reportedly its most profitable asset.

The acceptance of the multi-million offer ends the Graham family’s four generation leadership of the company. However, there are few changes expected with Mr Bezos not planning to be involved in the day-to-day running, saying: “I am happy living in ‘the other Washington’ (Seattle) where I have a day job that I love.

“Besides that the Post already has an excellent leadership team that knows much more about the news business than I do and I’m extremely grateful to them for agreeing to stay on.”

It is expected that the current editor of the Washington Post, Martin Baron, will remain in his post and Katherine Weymouth, the current publisher of the paper and niece of the chief executive of the company, assured employees that they were not anticipating any lay-offs among the 2,000 strong staff.

In a letter to staff Mr Bezos said that while “the values of the Post do not need changing” there will be changes in the business model.

“The internet is transforming almost every element of the news business: shortening news cycles, eroding long-reliable news sources, and enabling new kinds of competition, some of which bear little or no news-gathering costs,” he said. “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.”

He added that the most important thing for journalists at the Post remained to “follow the story, no matter the cost”.

Donald Graham, the chief executive of the company, added: “We wanted to do more than survive. I’m not saying this guarantees success but it gives us a much greater chance of success.”

Katherine Weymouth explained that the criteria for selling meant finding a buyer “to share our values and commitment to journalism or we wouldn’t sell it”.

Sources: The Telegraph and The Times

07/08/13

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