Jeff Bezos purchased the Washington Post today for $250 million.
Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, will take over the Post from the Graham Family. Donald Graham, the Post Co’s chief executive, agreed to a $250 million deal that will see ownership of the Post leave the Graham family for the first time in four generations.
Graham said: “Every member of my family started out with the same emotion—shock—in even thinking about… But when the idea of a transaction with Jeff Bezos came up, it altered my feelings. 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.”
Graham may believe that Bezos is the man to take the Washington Post into the future but the deal does come with some uncertainty. Bezos tried to soothe the concerns today in an open letter to the employees of the Washington Post.
The founder of Amazon writes: “Many of you will greet (the news) with a degree of apprehension. When a single family owns a company for many decades, and when that family acts for all those decades in good faith, in a principled manner, in good times and in rough times, as stewards of important values – when that family has done such a good job – it is only natural to worry about change. So, let me start with something critical. The values of The Post do not need changing. The paper’s duty will remain to its readers and not to the private interests of its owners. 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.”
Bezos may plan on following the truth but he did say that several changes will be made at the Washington Post. The Amazon founder said that the news business is changing and that the Washington Post will help carve out a new path.
Bezos said: “There will of course be change at The Post over the coming years. That’s essential and would have happened with or without new ownership. 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.”
Bezos is the founder of one of the largest entities on the internet, Amazon.com, but the online retailer will not be directly connected to the Washington Post. Bezos will become the sole owner after the $250 million deal is finalized.