Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the 19th richest man in the world, has bought leading US newspaper The Washington Post.
The $250 million (£162million) purchase is being made by a company owned wholly by Bezos rather than by Amazon. Last week, Bezos sold about $185 million worth of Amazon shares, though it's unclear whether the sale is connected to the acquisition.
"The purchaser is an entity that belongs to Mr. Bezos in his individual capacity and is not Amazon.com, Inc.
," read a press release issued by The Washington Post
As well as the capital city's main broadsheet, the purchase also includes all of the other papers and websites previously owned by The Washington Post
. These include Express daily
, The Gazette
newspapers, and the Southern Maryland
newspapers, but not Slate
or Foreign Policy
, which will remain part of the Washington Post Company.
Former owner Katharine Weymouth has agreed to stay on as both publisher and CEO of the Post.
Following the announcement, Bezos circulated a memo
to all Washington Post
employees reassuring them of his intention to continue the quality values of the paper.
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.
"Journalism plays a critical role in a free society, and The Washington Post -- as the hometown paper of the capital city of the United States -- is especially important."
Founded in 1877, the Post is best known for its reporting on the Watergate scandal, which led to the resignation of US President Richard Nixon in 1974. Privately purchased by Eugene Meyer in 1933 it has remained in his family ever since, making the Bezos purchase that much more surprising. However, having faced difficult times with the downturn in profits for large newspapers, Bezos' expertise in the online world could well be just what the company needs.