Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos wraps up a deal to buy the Washington Post.
Bezos, whose entrepreneurship has made him one of the world’s richest men, will pay $250 million in cash for The Post and affiliated publications to The Washington Post Co., which owns the newspaper and other businesses.
Seattle-based Amazon will have no role in the purchase; Bezos himself will buy the news organization and become its sole owner when the sale is completed, probably within 60 days. The Post Co. will get a new, still-undecided name and continue as a publicly traded company without The Post.
The deal represents a sudden and stunning turn of events for The Post, Washington’s leading newspaper for decades and a powerful force in shaping the nation’s politics and policy. Few people were aware that a sale was in the works for the paper, an institution that has covered local communities and presidents and gained worldwide attention for its stories about Watergate scandals and, in June, disclosures about National Security Agency surveillance programs.
Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald Graham and his niece, Post publisher Katharine Weymouth, broke the news of the sale to a packed meeting of employees at the company’s headquarters in downtown Washington on Monday. The mood was hushed; several veteran employees cried as Graham and Weymouth took turns reading statements and answering questions. “Everyone who was in that room knows how much Don and Katharine love the paper and how hard this must have been for them,” said David Ignatius, a veteran Post columnist who was visibly moved after the meeting.
But for much of the past decade, the paper has been unable to escape the financial turmoil that has engulfed newspapers and other “legacy” media organizations. The rise of the Internet and the epochal change from print to digital technology have created a massive wave of competition for traditional news companies, scattering readers and advertisers across a radically altered news and information landscape and triggering mergers, bankruptcies and consolidation among the owners of print and broadcasting properties.
“Every member of my family started out with the same emotion — shock — in even thinking about” selling The Post, Graham said in an interview Monday. “But when the idea of a transaction with Jeff Bezos came up, it altered my feelings.”
Mr. Bezos grew up in Miami. So why didn’t he buy the Miami Herald? Because he didn’t get to be that rich by being stupid, that’s why.