Jeff Bezos just bought The Washington Post.
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Jeff Bezos
Adam Taylor reports that it is JEFF BEZOS personally -- not Amazon -- who bought the Washington Post:
Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, has bought the Washington Post for $250 million.
The newspaper's website is carrying a story with details of the deal, which will include the Post and some of its affiliated publications, including El Tiempo Latino, the Express newspaper and The Gazette Newspapers.
The deal was made personally by Bezos — Amazon was not involved. The news organization had previously been owned by the Graham family for four generations.
“The Post could have survived under the company’s ownership and been profitable for the foreseeable future. But we wanted to do more than survive. I’m not saying this guarantees success but it gives us a much greater chance of success," Donald Graham said in an interview with the Post.
In a letter to the employees, Bezos says he won't be "leading the Washington Post day-to-day" and that the Post's current leadership team will be staying on.
"With Mr. Bezos as our owner, we enter a new era and embrace an exciting future," Katherine Weymouth, the current publisher and CEO of the Washington Post, wrote today in a letter to readers. Weymouth, a member of the Graham family, also said that she was staying with the paper. "I look forward to it, and I firmly believe you should as well."
The deal does not include the Washington Post Company's non-publication assets, such as Kaplan, Post–Newsweek Stations and Cable ONE. It also will not include certain publications, including Slate magazine, TheRoot.com and Foreign Policy.
The Washington Post Company will change its name and continue as a publicly-traded company under another name.
Bezos' Amazon company is the world's largest internet retailer, reporting sales of $61 billion in 2012. This has resulted in a large personal fortune for its founder — Forbes says Bezos is worth $25.2 billion, making him the 19th richest man in the world.
It's just a matter of time before he also owns the LA Times and the New York Times.
Most billionaires buy sports franchises or islands. Jeff Bezos buys a newspaper.
Free on your Kindle with every Amazon Prime subscription?
I bet Seattlites wish he could've closed the deal on the Kings instead.
Yeah, no kidding.
A few years ago, I just didn’t get it. I couldn’t for the life of me understand how a company like Amazon could operate, let alone flourish. I spent the majority of my time following Apple, a company which in many ways was the antithesis of Amazon. Apple was all about huge margins, big profit. Amazon seemed to avoid profit like the plague. The more razor-thin the margin, the better. They were Bizarro Apple.
And clearly, I’m not the only one confused by Amazon. When The Washington Post broke the news today of The Washington Post being acquired by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, the flow of snark was fast and furious. “Bezos acquisition of WaPo shows just how much this man loves low-margin businesses.” “So, now Jeff Bezos owns two lifestyle businesses.“ Etc. Etc.
I piled on as well, but only to ensnare some folks in a conversation about what I’ve been thinking about for the past year or so: Jeff Bezos is no fool, he’s a genius. And if you can’t spot that, you’re the fool. Certainly, I used to be.
While the game Amazon is playing is not as straightforward as Apple’s, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game to play. In fact, you could argue that it’s a better game to be playing right now in the respective life cycles of the two companies.
I understand, of course, that Amazon isn’t buying The Washington Post, Bezos personally is. And in an age where Newsweek (incidentally, once owned by The Washington Post) is getting sold for perhaps fifty cents on the literal dollar, and The Boston Globe is being sold for effectively negative $40 million, this move may seem to make less sense than Bezos’ Amazon operations. But I would not bet against Bezos here either.
Here’s the thing that most people, and certainly many in the tech press, don’t seem to understand about Amazon, and by extension, Bezos: when it comes to business, there’s a game being played almost flawlessly. The goal is actually to not make a huge profit too early, and Bezos manages it perfectly. You want to avoid showing your cards too early as you continue to lay the groundwork for an ever-larger business. Occasionally, you’ll have to show those cards and win a hand to prove that you can. But the rest of the time you call and fold, as you await the monster to take the entire pot.
And so I repeat, Bezos is a genius. He’s flying under-the-radar until he can buy the radar. And probably the company that makes all the radars as well. With Amazon, it’s not “now or never”, it’s “next”.
It’s certainly possible that Amazon slips up and they are never able to live up to the ambitions that Bezos has been building towards for the past two decades. But even pure mishaps like the LivingSocial and Pets.com investments didn’t do much to deter the trajectory.
So while The Washington Post purchase may sound insane, it’s probably a much more calculated maneuver by Bezos. He’s likely once again playing chess while we’re all trying to parse the way he’s playing checkers. And if it fails, what’s $250 million for an ever-more-wealthy billionaire anyway? Have you seen Amazon’s stock price recently?
Yeah, that's a bunch of great points.
Before Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post for $250 million, he had some choice words for the ailing print news industry. In a wide-ranging interview with the German paper, Berliner-Zeitung, the newly-minted media mogul said at the time that no one would bother paying for news online and print would be dead in 20 years (translation from our awesome writer, Frederic Lardinois).
“There is one thing I’m certain about: there won’t be printed newspapers in twenty years. Maybe as luxury items in some hotels that want to offer them as an extravagant service. Printed papers won’t be normal in twenty years.” said Bezos. That’s a pretty long timeline (think what happened in technology since 1993), but it does given an indication that Bezos may pressure his new newspaper to accelerate abandonment of their print version.
During the last quarter, according to the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post’s print division posted a 4% decline in revenue. Revenue from online publishing, mostly from Washingtonpost.com and Slate properties, increased 8% to $25.8 million.
Perhaps most importantly, Bezos claimed that, “On the Web, people don’t pay for news and it’s too late for that to change”. Last March, the Washington Post put up a metered paywall, charging readers who access more than 20 articles a month. While Bezos may not interfere with editorial, it is within his role as owner to see the paper to profitability. If Bezos thinks paywalls are misguided, we may see the Washington Post drop theirs.
No more print, no more paywalls, just make it like Business Insider: online and profitable. Win-win!
More food for thought comes from Arrington's "New New York Times" rant:
Content is king, right?
Content is king, but wine would be fine(r).
The joke going around tech circles right now is that he told his assistant to buy an issue of WaPo, not the whole company!
Buying a winery does sound like much more fun.