Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is buying The Washington Post and other newspapers for $250 million in a move sending shock waves through the tech and journalism worlds.
The iconic newspaper company announced the deal Monday, saying Bezos is buying the paper as an individual and will pay cash. Amazon.com Inc. is not involved.
Bezos called The Post “an important institution” and said its values would not change in an interview with the paper. “I don’t want to imply that I have a worked-out plan,” he said. “This will be uncharted terrain and it will require experimentation.”
While Bezos said he was optimistic about the future of the paper, its fortunes have sagged along with the rest of the industry. The Washington Post and its related publications have lost 44 percent in the last four years.
“I understand the critical role the Post plays in Washington, DC and our nation, and the Post’s values will not change,” said Mr. Bezos. “Our duty to readers will continue to be the heart of the Post, and I am very optimistic about the future.”
Washington Post chairman and CEO Donald Graham called Bezos a “uniquely good new owner.” He said the decision was made after years of newspaper industry challenges. The company, which owns the Kaplan education business and several TV stations, will change its name, but didn’t say what the new name will be.
In a letter to the employees of the Post, Bezos says he won’t be leading the paper day-to-day. “I am happily living in ‘the other Washington’ where I have a day job that I love. Besides that, The Post already has an excellent leadership team that knows much more about the news business than I do, and I’m extremely grateful to them for agreeing to stay on,” he writes.
While Amazon has increased its media offerings in recent years, including production of original online programs, Bezos has not previously shown any significant interest in the newspaper industry. He has invested personally in the New York-based Business Insider website.
His other personal ventures include the private space company Blue Origin. He’s also reportedly spending $42 million to develop a clock inside a mountain in Texas that is designed to last 10,000 years – a symbol of Bezos’ business philosophy of thinking long-term, the Post reports.
The Associated Press contributed to this report