The day started for me with a wide open mouth after reading the biggest news of the day – Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has acquired The Washington Post for $250 million.
Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald Graham and his niece, Post publisher Katharine Weymouth, broke the news of the sale to a packed meeting of employees at the company’s headquarters in downtown Washington on Monday.
According to the deal, it is a personal investment being made by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and the Seattle based Amazon has no role in acquiring one of America’s leading news organizations.
One of the world’s richest men, Bezos himself will buy the news organization and become its sole owner when the sale is completed, which could happen in 60 days. However, Bezos will not acquire other Washington Post Company-owned publications, including Slate magazine, TheRoot.com or Foreign Policy.
According to the deal, Post Co. will get a new, still-undecided name and continue as a publicly traded company without The Post. Graham and Bezos have also confirmed that the management and operations of the newspaper will continue without disruption after the sale. In fact Katharine Weymouth, the current CEO of the Post, says she will remain in her current role.
Bezos who considers The Post “an important institution” added that,
“I don’t want to imply that I have a worked-out plan. This will be uncharted terrain, and it will require experimentation.”
Further he said, “There would be change with or without new ownership. But the key thing I hope people will take away from this is that the values of The Post do not need changing. The duty of the paper is to the readers, not the owners.”
The new development which will end the Graham family’s control of the newspaper after 80 years was written out there. The newspaper has suffered a 44 percent decline in operating revenue over the past six years and left the company’s board with no choice other than selling it out.
It would be interesting to see Bezos, “Businessperson of the year 2012” taking the firm further. Some might consider the purchase insane but it is most probably a calculated move by Bezos. This TC article well describes the man’s move on why he is no fool.
“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?”
Jeff Bezos and Washington Post both trend on India Trends
The news is obviously big enough in the US but Jeff Bezos and Washington Post have already started trending since early morning in India too. I guess as the day progresses we will see more buzz around the keywords unless some Indian politician creates a new controversy. Oops! #yorahulsodumb is already trending.
Some of the interesting tweets that are worth having a look –
Washington Post to be sold to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos http://t.co/v84m9ImVy5
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 5, 2013
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) August 6, 2013
My quick analysis: Jeff Bezos is the platonic ideal of the billionaire jounalist-sponsoring sugar daddy. http://t.co/fw1yTrkVy7
— Heidi N. Moore (@moorehn) August 5, 2013
“We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment.” -Jeff Bezos: http://t.co/kT6aCEzj5k
— Eric Ries (@ericries) August 5, 2013
Jeff Bezos has reputation for building great companies with little to no profit, perfect guy to own a newspaper http://t.co/PmZpHiarEQ
— Ben Popper (@benpopper) August 5, 2013
It is also being argued that with this deal there is a hint that the mass media industry which is being severely challenged in the digital world is shifting back to an earlier model.
It’s not just about the demise of newspapers. It’s about the rise of individual fortunes so vast they can buy national institutions.
— davidfrum (@davidfrum) August 5, 2013
Gigaom on the recent development shares that,“In the early days of the newspaper industry, they were owned by rich men who had made their fortunes doing something else (real estate, retail, etc.) and were seen as both an outlet for their views about politics and the economy as well as a way of giving back to society.”
But one can’t argue much that with the insights in social web, Jeff Bezos can take the Post in some dramatic new directions in the digital world, like he has done to Amazon.
Image courtesy: Geekwire