Amazon founder picks up new title — Washington Post owner
Jeffrey Bezos, founder of Amazon.com who helped bring books into the digital age, is going after another pillar of “old media”: The Washington Post.
Bezos, 49, struck a deal announced on Monday to buy the venerable Washington broadsheet and other newspapers for $250 million. It was a startling demonstration of how the Internet has created winners and losers and transformed the media landscape.
Bezos pioneered online shopping, first by selling books out of his Seattle garage in 1995, then with just about everything else. In doing so, he has amassed a $25 billion personal fortune, based on the most recent estimates by Forbes magazine.
Bezos is buying The Washington Post as an individual. Amazon.com Inc is not involved.
Bezos said to Post employees in a letter that he’d be keeping his “day job’” as Amazon CEO and a life in “the other Washington” where Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle are based.
But he made clear there would be changes, if unforeseen ones, coming. “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,” he wrote. “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.”
Washington Post Co chairman and CEO Donald Graham called Bezos a “uniquely good new owner”. He said the decision was made after years of newspaper industry challenges. The company, which owns the Kaplan education business and several TV stations, will change its name but did not announce what the new name will be.
Bezos said in a statement that he understands the Post’s “critical role” in Washington and said its values won’t change.
“The paper’s duty will remain to its readers and not to the private interests of its owners,” Bezos said.
“We will continue to follow the truth wherever it leads, and we’ll work hard not to make mistakes. When we do, we will own up to them quickly and completely.”
A man leaves The Washington Post building after the announced sale of the newspaper on Monday in Washington. The Graham family has agreed to sell the flagship newspaper for $250 million to Amazon.com founder Jeffrey Bezos.