Amazon’s Jeff Bezos buys the Washington Post for $250 million

posted at 6:42 pm on August 5, 2013 by Allahpundit

First John Henry buys the Globe, now this. Says David Frum:

You know Trump’s thinking about making a play for the Times. No way is he going to pass on a magnate schwanz-measuring contest with this much media heat. Yuge:

Bezos, in an interview, called The Post “an important institution” and expressed optimism about its future. “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.”

He said, “There would be change with or without new ownership. But the key thing I hope people will take away from this is that the values of The Post do not need changing. The duty of the paper is to the readers, not the owners.”…

Bezos said he would maintain his home in Seattle and would delegate the paper’s daily operations to its existing management. “I have a fantastic day job that I love,” he said.

He and current owner Donald Graham each posted letters to the paper’s staff. Graham’s is interesting for the candor of one particular line: “[T]he newspaper business continued to bring up questions to which we have no answer…” Bezos’s is interesting for its hints at answers to come:

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 widely understood to be a libertarian, but since he’s less activist in his beliefs than the Koch brothers, his takeover of a journalistic institution is being greeted as a buzzworthy curiosity rather than the opening of the first seal in Revelation. He’s donated mostly to Democrats too, which will help reassure his new employees.

A few points. One: Per DrewM, the combined value of the Washington Post and Boston Globe these days is more than $100 million less than the least valued major league baseball team — or, if you prefer, half the amount that the Qatari royals paid for Current TV. If you’ve got $250 million to play with, what’s a better use of your money, a yacht with all the trimmings or the political influence that comes with owning the paper of record in the capital of the most powerful country in the world?

Two: If anyone can figure out a way to make newspapers profitable in the digital age, it’s Bezos, no? The fears that would normally come with a tremendously powerful online entrepreneur extending his influence by buying up a major paper seem more muted this afternoon, just because his success with Amazon suggests he might have the answers to the questions that Graham mentions. There’s some truth to this, too:

Ace thinks Bezos will keep the Post reliably Democratic in orientation. I don’t know. It may be that he cares less about shaping the news than about the challenge of building a news outlet that succeeds online where others have failed miserably. If I were him, I wouldn’t want any political grief from a comparatively tiny asset like the Post bleeding over into my main business. He just bought himself a lot of cachet. All he can do now is annoy half of his Amazon customers by wielding it in a manner that’s too politically antagonistic.

Three: Antitrust laws are destined for a political comeback in the years ahead, especially as grassroots conservatives turn more populist economically. That’s another reason why I think Bezos will tread lightly in partisan terms — the public’s antenna is already up for GoogleAppleAmazonFacebook expansion, especially after the Snowden leaks highlighted the extent of tech companies’ cooperation with NSA surveillance. The more antagonistic they are to one party or the other, the more traction antitrust sentiment will get on one side of the aisle. And they’ll have enemies in the media too, of course, willing to amplify those concerns. How do you think the NYT will react if Amazon starts promoting WaPo content on its front page?

If you’ve never seen “Epic 2014″ before, watch it now. It was produced in 2004 but it gets more interesting by the day. “EPIC,” at around 6:30, can’t be long now.


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New name for paper: Jeff’s Folly.

Like the telegraph, fax machine and yellow pages Morning newspapers are OLD NEWS.

PappyD61 on August 5, 2013 at 6:45 PM

Future headline: Jeff Bezos Sells WaPo for $1500 and 4 Carrot Top tickets

Chuck Schick on August 5, 2013 at 6:45 PM

Did I read somewhere that Amazon runs at a loss overall? I think I am sure! that I read that.

SouthernGent on August 5, 2013 at 6:45 PM

Afool and his money is soon parted.

meci on August 5, 2013 at 6:46 PM

Wow. I admit I didn’t see that coming, but…
Thanks Allah.

seesalrun2 on August 5, 2013 at 6:47 PM

Wouldn’t all red or black be better investment choice?

Oil Can on August 5, 2013 at 6:48 PM

I find this…

Bezos is widely understood to be a libertarian

rather difficult to square with this…

He’s donated mostly to Democrats too, which will help reassure his new employees.

He’s also got Jamie Gorlick on his board at Amazon…not someone a ‘libertarian’ is likely to chose…

Or maybe he’s one of those very confused liberal Democrats who thinks he’s a libertarian because we wants weed legalized.

AUINSC on August 5, 2013 at 6:49 PM

. No way is he going to pass on a magnate schwanz-measuring contest

Why doesn’t Untoonio Schwanz buy a newspaper ?
:O

burrata on August 5, 2013 at 6:49 PM

I just want to know this about the transaction:

How did the seller do?

Excellent – Item delivered on time, was as described, great customer service (if contacted)
I had a different experience…
Does the product meet your expectations?
Rate and Review Purchases

radjah shelduck on August 5, 2013 at 6:52 PM

I can’t wait until he bankrupts!! ROTFLMMFBO!!

Tbone McGraw on August 5, 2013 at 6:53 PM

All he needs now is a little red head orphan with a dog and his Daddy Warbucks persona is complete.

portlandon on August 5, 2013 at 6:56 PM

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos buys the Washington Post for $250 million

Why?

redguy on August 5, 2013 at 6:57 PM

I would tell the reporters: Stop censoring the news. Go after everyone in Washington who is crooked, starting with Obama and working your way down. I don’t care if they’re Democrat, Republican, or whatever. Get ‘em. Now git.

The Rogue Tomato on August 5, 2013 at 6:57 PM

“Play money” for this guy. I think the Koch Bros interest in newspapers (I should put a snicker around the news part) has put a panic in the industry (even though I don’t think they were serious on any of the rumored buys).

For anybody with access to a library, check out Mark Twain’s “How I Edited an Agricultural Paper”. It’s a short read but explains a lot.

teejk on August 5, 2013 at 6:58 PM

You know Trump’s thinking about making a play for the Times. No way is he going to pass on a magnate schwanz-measuring contest with this much media heat. Yuge:

Best part of the whole story.

BettyRuth on August 5, 2013 at 6:58 PM

…how long before he is a flaming liberal?

KOOLAID2 on August 5, 2013 at 7:00 PM

OT-

DEM POLLING FIRM PPP NAMES REGISTERED DEM GEORGE ZIMMERMAN AMONG POTENTIAL 2016 GOP NOMINEES

Heh.

CW on August 5, 2013 at 7:00 PM

Bezos is a liberal so nothing has changed here…

mnjg on August 5, 2013 at 7:04 PM

The JeffPost?

The Bezos Bugle?

JEM on August 5, 2013 at 7:12 PM

I thought the Post was owned by Kaplan, or maybe they owned Kaplan?

blue13326 on August 5, 2013 at 7:13 PM

Breaking Action Alert! – Liberal 1%’er buying newspaper creates no liberal hysteria.

Bishop on August 5, 2013 at 7:14 PM

I think:

‘Or maybe he’s one of those very confused liberal Democrats who thinks he’s a libertarian because we wants weed legalized’

is probably close to the mark. He’s very pro gay marriage and gives heavily to Dems…

blue13326 on August 5, 2013 at 7:18 PM

I guess this makes him Citizen Vain.

SailorMark on August 5, 2013 at 7:19 PM

Bezos isn’t exactly the master of profits. Apple’s weekly net income in December is greater than the sum of Amazon’s total income – as in for the last 19 years.

blah blah blah on August 5, 2013 at 7:21 PM

Or maybe he’s one of those very confused liberal Democrats who thinks he’s a libertarian because we wants weed legalized.

AUINSC on August 5, 2013 at 6:49 PM

I wouldn’t read politics into this investment. Bezos also owns a space company and in the process of trying to acquire NASA launch pads for his rockets.

One of the main challenges facing the internet giants today is in finding media partnerships that aren’t inhibited by paranoia (even when justified), fear, and doubt on the part of the old media companies. Now Bezos controls a major media company that will play nice with Amazon, opening the doors to tighter integration and better distribution through Amazon devices. It will set a standard that other major media players will feel pressured to match. From a business perspective, this is brilliant move and one that isn’t political at its core. It may eventually help increase the value of his Amazon stock by another $200 bil.

bayam on August 5, 2013 at 7:27 PM

Bezos is widely understood to be a libertarian

I have never heard this claim – where does it come from? The only “political new” we ever hear about Bezos is his support of liberal democrat causes and democrat candidates – is this the “new” definition of “Libertarian”?

Pork-Chop on August 5, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Just another liberal buying a liberal newspaper. He supports liberal causes and donates to liberal politicians.

rplat on August 5, 2013 at 7:31 PM

Two: If anyone can figure out a way to make newspapers profitable in the digital age, it’s Bezos, no?

You mean the guy who was the first person to see the Segway, and his response was “it’s going to revolutionize urban travel”.

He’s not the savant everyone makes him out to be. He’s simply keeping his market share by spending everything he makes.

And Bezos is only libertarian when it comes to business regulations.

Even then, he captiulates to make the left happy. See: his cave-in on internet taxes.

The guy’s answer is to move to a same or one-day model. If he supported ANWAR or Keystone, I’d say he’s serious. But he doesn’t.

He bought the Post so he could play Murdoch with the op-ed and try to influence/lobby.

But, it’s a guarantee that he’ll back Hillary over a real libertarian like Paul.

Why? Cause dude’s a puss-a.

Anyone who would build the Obama 2012 voter database is a prog douche.

budfox on August 5, 2013 at 7:32 PM

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos buys the Washington Post for $250 million

These guys usually buy pro sports teams. Guess his ego is more intellectually oriented?

Dr. ZhivBlago on August 5, 2013 at 7:32 PM

DEM POLLING FIRM PPP NAMES REGISTERED DEM GEORGE ZIMMERMAN AMONG POTENTIAL 2016 GOP NOMINEES

Deelish.

Observations:

The moment he announced he’d see to be White HISPANIC. He’d just be white.

The gop leadership would be put in quite the quandry criticizing a HISPANIC after legalizing 20 million of them in 2013.

Marco Rubio would be in a world of el hurto.

The gop Progressive Ruling class would pull out ALL the stops to see that he didn’t get the nomination. Of course it would be in the form of leaks to the media from “unnamed sources”

The media would have a field day with Sharpton and the Hoodies showing up at all kinds of rallies.

PappyD61 on August 5, 2013 at 7:37 PM

(fix)

“political news

Pork-Chop on August 5, 2013 at 7:37 PM

From a business perspective, this is brilliant move and one that isn’t political at its core. It may eventually help increase the value of his Amazon stock by another $200 bil.

bayam on August 5, 2013 at 7:27 PM

The hell it will.

WaPo is a bleeder. Amazon is a bleeder.

He’s going to turn WaPo into the paper of record for the Kindle.

It’s all about controlling the op-ed page and owning original content.

But it’s not going to increase company value.

If he can stop Amazon from losing it’s ass on SVOD or fought back internet taxation, then yeah, they would be sitting pretty.

But Bezos plan is to spend and hope his market share covers his costs. Once the spread becomes too wide, he’s in deep crap. So the proactive way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to influence the DC narrative.

budfox on August 5, 2013 at 7:38 PM

davidfrum @davidfrum

In 1913, great newspapers were rich men’s toys. By 1963, they’d become mighty independent corporations. In 2013
===============================================

In 2013,

they become Tools for LibTards and Propaganda Instruments
for ProgressiveTards and SocialistTards!!

canopfor on August 5, 2013 at 7:38 PM

You know Trump’s thinking about making a play for the Times. No way is he going to pass on a magnate schwanz-measuring contest with this much media heat. Yuge:
=======================

D*mmitt,size matters,er,the Media Empire sumpins….

canopfor on August 5, 2013 at 7:42 PM

I’d say he is a Prog since there has been no howling against the deal from the State Run Media.

d1carter on August 5, 2013 at 7:43 PM

No change. Still going downhill at a faster rate than yesterday.

BetseyRoss on August 5, 2013 at 7:44 PM

Bezos will just love dealing with the unions.

Philly on August 5, 2013 at 7:44 PM

$250 million? That’s all WaPo is worth?

Bwhahahahahahahaha.

Bill Gates could have bought it for pocket change.

How many Hollywood blockbusters this summer had a bigger budget to make one frakin’ movie?

And the Boston Globe was worth only $70 million.

IIRC, Newsweek was/is basically worthless.

Too bad they still have influence wildly out of proportion to their economic worth and value.

farsighted on August 5, 2013 at 7:54 PM

“… But the key thing I hope people will take away from this is that the values of The Post do not need changing. The duty of the paper is to the readers Democratic Party, not the owners.”

FIFY

GarandFan on August 5, 2013 at 7:57 PM

Did I read somewhere that Amazon runs at a loss overall? I think I am sure! that I read that.

SouthernGent on August 5, 2013 at 6:45 PM

Their earnings are low as they plow back all their profits into growing Amazon.

I can assure Amazon, with whom I do a LARGE amount of business, that I will cease to do so at the first inkling that The Post becomes any more left than it is. And, that would be quite a loss of business.

avagreen on August 5, 2013 at 7:58 PM

From a business perspective, this is brilliant move and one that isn’t political at its core. It may eventually help increase the value of his Amazon stock by another $200 bil.

bayam on August 5, 2013 at 7:27 PM

LOL.

So you think he “may eventually” get an 80,000% return on his $250 million investment?

You are an idiot.

farsighted on August 5, 2013 at 7:58 PM

this is an minor story compared to the massive story about the media being an arm of the progressive movement. The left has its hands on the throat of all legacy media…who are either ideologues, or afraid to ask questions.

CNN blandly admitted that they didn’t cover Saddam because they would be kicked out of the country. They should have had the integrity to be kicked out and cover Iraq from Kuwait rather than Baghdad…but no, that’s too much to ask

Drudge links to another story about media vanity…Newsweek.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/05/business/media/the-last-temptation-of-tina-brown.html

Newsweek itself is almost a parody site, with Features like “my Palestine vacation’, A story about a left-wing gay running for Tel Aviv mayor…and of course, my favorite: The soccer ball that stores electricity.

All well produced with nice layouts and photos…all very pretty.

r keller on August 5, 2013 at 8:01 PM

Bezos is widely understood to be a libertarian, but since he’s less activist in his beliefs than the Koch brothers, his takeover of a journalistic institution is being greeted as a buzzworthy curiosity rather than the opening of the first seal in Revelation a liberal.

He’s donated mostly to Democrats too, which will help reassure his new employees.

There. Clarity is important.

Jaibones on August 5, 2013 at 8:02 PM

From a business perspective, …

bayam on August 5, 2013 at 7:27 PM

What would a girly little liberal know-nothing have to tell us about “a business perspective”?

Jaibones on August 5, 2013 at 8:04 PM

Just another alien hermaphrodite posing as humanist.

I have a hard time to find a sane billionaire these days, they all look as glass-eyed zombies.

Rookie on August 5, 2013 at 8:07 PM

These guys usually buy pro sports teams. Guess his ego is more intellectually oriented?

Dr. ZhivBlago on August 5, 2013 at 7:32 PM

On target.

It’s a toy. Sure, there will now be a Kindle addition of WaPo. I assume there isn’t one now. And WaPo will be used to promote Amazon in one way or another.

Also, this probably gets Bezos invited to a few more DC mutual admiration ceremonies and banquets, and to some other social get-togethers. He can get to see “leaks” first hand, too.

But that’s about it.

farsighted on August 5, 2013 at 8:09 PM

Katherine, where were you when JFK was screwing all those girls when Jackie was tending to the children our out of town at HP?

Tilly on August 5, 2013 at 8:16 PM

Hard to imagine it can be worse under Bezos. But of course, when you think it can never get worse, it usually does.

On the bright side, sale of WaPo accelerates the commoditization of MSM icons, and this is a good thing.

petefrt on August 5, 2013 at 8:16 PM

I live in the DC metro area, and I never read that paper, even online, except if there’s some weather event. That’s not for ideological reasons either. I don’t read any of the DC papers. It’s just a dead format. Bad investment there Bozos.

WhatSlushfund on August 5, 2013 at 8:19 PM

Journalism has been dead for some time…Bezos and others are just buying the used coffins.

d1carter on August 5, 2013 at 8:20 PM

The comments on the WaPo page dealing with this are interesting.

More than half are of the “we need real reporters, not opinion section writers…” ilk.

Tells you where people think the newsroom is nowadays — firmly in the pocket of the White House….

unclesmrgol on August 5, 2013 at 8:25 PM

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.

HEY! How about this ——-> JUST PRINT THE TRUTH!!!!!!!

For crying out loud. How hard does this have to be?

Cleombrotus on August 5, 2013 at 8:45 PM

Internet Sales Tax editorials in 3… 2… 1…

That’s all this is about.

faraway on August 5, 2013 at 9:00 PM

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos buys the Washington Post for $250 million

I know they’ve been wanting to raise newsstand prices for awhile now, but that’s just ridiculous.

mintycrys on August 5, 2013 at 9:05 PM

From a business perspective, this is brilliant move and one that isn’t political at its core. It may eventually help increase the value of his Amazon stock by another $200 bil.

bayam on August 5, 2013 at 7:27 PM

We’re all Bezos on this bus. Sorry you have to follow behind us in your clown car.

Squeeze the wheeze!

Del Dolemonte on August 5, 2013 at 9:26 PM

Slate was not in the deal (neither was The Root or FP)

Wiegel

What explains the Democratic tilt? Bezos doesn’t give many interviews about his politics, but turn your eyes to the donation he gave to the successful 2012 campaign to legalize gay marriage in Washington. Bezos and his wife gave $2.5 million. Nothing we know about Bezos suggests that he differs much from the coastal/Acela policy consensus — which is to say he doesn’t differ much from the editorial board of the paper he owns now.

But he’s not used to owning a media corporation with a strong union culture, like the guild at the Post. That’s the first clash I’m interested in.

so not much change…libs are what they are…technocrat leftists who think that they are the ones to run the world.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2013/08/05/jeff_bezos_inscrutable_libertarian_democrat.html

r keller on August 5, 2013 at 9:34 PM

so not much change…libs are what they are…technocrat leftists who think that they are the ones to run the world.

r keller on August 5, 2013 at 9:34 PM

Don’t you just love the billionaire limousine liberals who built their companies and made their billions in a low tax environment that was entrepreneur and small business friendly, but who now think higher taxes, more socialism for the masses, and government policies that squelch entrepreneurship and growing small businesses are the way to go?

It’s easy to take those positions once you’ve made a few billion. Especially when you can get the government to enact regulations that will help drive your smaller competitors out of business and salt the soil any future competition might grow in. And if you can use your influence to get special exemptions from government policies you don’t like.

Fascist socialist corporate cronyism is not bad if you are already one of the wealthy economic elites who won’t really be affected.

farsighted on August 5, 2013 at 9:59 PM

I don’t know Bezos, but I worked for one of the other late-model billionaires back when he was just a millionaire.

He’d have issued the exact same press release Bezos did, then little by little cleared out the whole place and staffed it to his liking over the next six months.

So I’ll wait and see.

JEM on August 5, 2013 at 10:10 PM

Oh yes, a ‘libertarian’ who has donated ‘mostly’ to Democrats. Er, yea. And Obama is Ronald Reagan.

HopeHeFails on August 5, 2013 at 10:13 PM

Perhaps WP has been a bit too unreliable lately?
e.g. on exposing data collection

Amazon/Bezos is probably more trustworthy going forward, to help keep things under wraps.

I am getting more impressed every day by the audacity, and hope things won’t go too much further.

b4its2lt on August 6, 2013 at 12:51 AM

I don’t see the added value for Bezos. The MSM has a perfectly functioning cloud system as it is.

Shy Guy on August 6, 2013 at 1:22 AM

You mean the guy who was the first person to see the Segway, and his response was “it’s going to revolutionize urban travel”.

I think that was Jobs, not Bezos. But I could be misremembering.

nukemhill on August 6, 2013 at 8:35 AM

Hey – for Bayam I thought it was a decent post. Yes – Amazon is actually still a loser from a traditional profit perspective and they “reinvest in the business” really because they need to keep the turns going or the whole thing will collapse.

I personally think he paid way too much for the Post – newspapers in general are dying because of their use as political instruments by liberals which have alienated the only audience interested in continuing to buy newspapers – the more politically conservative. The younger folks want aggregators only. Local papers succeed by catering to a local audience – WashPo and the NYT are dying artifacts. I think it was a foolish buy in as much as their is no reason to suggest he will change the WashPo’s outlook and hence they will continue to bleed money – with reduced turnover, unlike Amazon.

Zomcon JEM on August 6, 2013 at 8:50 AM

Our touchstone will be readers, understanding what they care about

So, in other words the paper will remain the progressive libtard capital of America. Have you ever spent just 5 minutes on the message boards at WAPO and taken in the utter mental illness that abounds?

NOMOBO on August 6, 2013 at 9:58 AM