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Amazon's Jeff Bezos buys Washington Post for $250 million

Amazon's Jeff Bezos buys Washington Post for $250 million

Jeff Bezos

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, TheRoot.com 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.

3 Comments

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schmidtbag 6th August 2013, 15:55 Quote
I agree that he might be able to help out the company, but other than boredom, I don't see why he really cares what happens to them. To me, that's like Bill Gates buying out Marlboro and use his business tactics to help sell more cigarettes - it's not that he'd be a bad owner, I just don't see why the outcome matters to him or better yet, how it relates to his own company.

The only foreseeable gain I see in an Amazon perspective is maybe having some extra exclusivity to the WP on Kindle. However, while I'm not a Kindle owner, I'd find it hard to believe if there isn't already something WP related for Kindle.
Meanmotion 6th August 2013, 18:17 Quote
Yeah, the man who made his fortune starting a company that sold books and that then pioneered digital publishing would have absolutely no interest in newspapers...
schmidtbag 6th August 2013, 18:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meanmotion
Yeah, the man who made his fortune starting a company that sold books and that then pioneered digital publishing would have absolutely no interest in newspapers...

Well as mentioned in the article, newspaper companies like the WP aren't doing that great. Also, books and newspapers aren't similar other than the fact that they're text documents intended for the general public. That's like comparing TV news to a sitcom or a drama. People often misinterpret what it means to be a writer, as there are many kinds that have nothing to do with each other and require different skills.

People buy e-books because they're overall easier to deal with than paper books. Most people do not pay for news sources (they're often free online). Newspapers are often thrown out while books (including paper ones) are kept. It isn't a surprise Bezos became so wealthy off of e-books, but you can't possibly expect he'd get that successful if he chose newspapers instead. Newspaper companies aren't that profitable anymore compared to book publishers (electronic or not), so unless Bezos is looking for a challenge, it *does* make sense why he wouldn't have an interest in newspapers regardless of his success in publishing books.
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