The Washington Post has announced that it will sell to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos for a whopping $250 million. To be clear, Amazon is not acquiring the company — this is a purchase by Bezos as an individual.
The Post’s CEO Donald E. Graham states that the 135-year-old company is selling due to “years of familiar newspaper-industry challenges.” Graham says these challenges made his company wonder “if there might be another owner who would be better.” As for why Bezos is a good choice, piles of cash aside, Graham cited his “technology and business genius,” his “long-term approach,” as well as his “personal decency.”
According to Bezos, “the values of The Post do not need changing,” but things will in fact change. Of course, it all has to do with the Internet’s disruption of the traditional news business. Here’s an excerpt from Bezos’ letter to the Post’s staff:
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.
It’s noteworthy that Bezos has taken on projects outside of Amazon in the past, but this purchase is surely one of his largest commitments unrelated to the online retail giant.
With this deal, the Post says Bezos will not acquire other Washington Post Company-owned publications, including Slate magazine, TheRoot.com or Foreign Policy.
Update: Katharine Weymouth, the current CEO of the Post, says she will remain in her current role. She says this decision was made “with a heavy heart.”
Image Credit: David McNew/Getty