Sound Stories. Sound Voices.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
You are on the KUOW archive site. Click here to go to our current site.

Jeff Bezos Brings Entrepreneurial Mindset To Washington Post Purchase

AP Photo/Reed Saxon

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has purchased the Washington Post for $250 million, and that has a lot of people wondering what's next for the legacy media company.

Brad Stone, senior writer for Bloomberg Businessweek, has written a book about the mega-entrepreneur. It's called, "The Everything Store,” due out in October. He said the sale was a surprise for many, but in keeping with the way Bezos thinks.

Amazon has moved in various ways to cut out the old traditional gatekeepers, you know, with its Kindle publishing program that lets authors publish directly to readers, [and] its Amazon studios program where they’re creating studios. So going and rescuing an old-line newspaper company is surprising, but clearly Jeff Bezos thinks that management philosophy he has, with a long-term orientation and patience and willing to experiment, can help rescue even a company like the Washington Post.

Bezos and the Washington Post made it clear, however, that the sale was to Bezos personally, not to Amazon.

Well we’ll see. Clearly they’re separate. It’s tempting to look at the Post and its assets as some sort of advantage for the Kindle ecosystem, but I think we have to take them at their word. He’s providing the capital. The Washington Post management is staying in place. Look, Jeff invests in teams he thinks are passionate. He was an early investment in Google because he loved Larry Page and Sergey Brin and their stubbornness, and their willingness to invest in technology. I think that’s what’s happening here. He’s known Don Graham for many years and thinks that they can revive this franchise if given some capital and some runway to try new things.

The hope is that will lead to a healthier Washington Post in the future.

If you look at the old news brands that are thriving, they tend to be the ones that have patient backers and willingness to experiment, which is hard, because if your business is based on newspaper subscription and print ads, then you’ve got to cater to that. But now with the Bezos' largesse and perhaps some relief from their pension obligations, I think this is going to be a newspaper that’s freer to try new things in a little bit of the same way we’ve seen organizations like Bloomberg and the New York Times try new things. So it should be good for a storied media franchise.