E-commerce mogul Jeff Bezos buys The Washington Post for US$250m

5 Aug 2013

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has bought one of America’s most iconic newspaper titles The Washington Post for US$250m.

Bezos, who founded e-commerce and cloud behemoth Amazon is to pay US$250m in cash for The Washington Post and affiliated titles.

The acquisition is being made purely by Bezos and has nothing to do with Amazon. In a letter to the employees of The Washington Post, Bezos said that the newspaper’s values will remain the same, with the same leadership team, but in order to navigate a landscape transformed by digital the newspaper will have to experiment.

“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,” Bezos said.

“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.”

The acquisition is expected to close in around 60 days and will see Bezos acquire the newspaper and its name from the Graham family, who ran the newspaper business for at least four generations.

It is understood that The Washington Post will continue trade as a publicly traded company possibly with a new name after the acquisition.

Unlike the vast majority of media companies in the world The Washington Post actually has an overfunded pension plan, but the Post is understood to be providing the new company under Bezos with US$50m to pay off the costs of the pension fund’s liabilities.

Real estate associated with the newspaper will be rented to the new establishment under Bezos.

The sale of The Washington Post indicates a sudden flurry in sell-off of illustrious US newspaper titles – The Boston Globe was sold to the owner of the Boston Red Sox John W Henry, who also happens to own soccer club Liverpool FC.

Washington Post newspaper seller during Obama inauguration image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years