Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos agreed to buy the storied Washington Post for $250 million, an acquisition that marks the end to four generations of the Graham family's ownership and the beginning of a large-scale endeavor to apply the billionaire's e-commerce know-how to the newspaper business.
Bezos made the deal as an individual and not part of Amazon, according to a statement released Monday.
The news caught many industry insiders, venture capitalists and the newspaper's own staff off guard. And for good reason. Bezos' personal investments, most of which fall under the purview of his fund Bezos Expeditions, have included some media ventures. But they've been squarely focus on new media, not saving the old guards of print.
As Amazon CEO, Bezos has taken a rather pessimistic view of old media intermediaries (like newspapers) that stand between consumers and the individual creators of content, notes Bloomberg reporter Brad Stone. And he's taken steps to remove those "gatekeepers," by allowing authors to publish their own books directly to Kindle, for example.
Bezos' statement on the purchase of the Washington Post reveals his basic strategy moving forward.
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.
Starting from the customer and "working backwards" is a fundamental principle at Amazon, one that Bezos clearly plans to use in his turnaround of the Washington Post.