Yesterday afternoon, the Washington Post shocked the publishing and tech industry with the announcement that Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos had signed an agreement to acquire the Washington Post newspaper. The announcement said that Jeff planned to stay in Seattle and at his day job, leaving the day-to-day operations of the paper to current management. Today, the newspaper published a letter from Bezos discussing the acquisition and his plans for the paper going forward.
Bezos reiterated his plans to stay in Seattle at his day job and reassured staff that the values of the paper wouldn't be changing. What's more, the Post's leadership team won't be changing. However, some things will be changing, even if that change does not happen right away and Bezos doesn't know what it is.
"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," Bezos said. "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 paid $250 million for the newspaper. It seems like a lot of money, but in the context of both the Washington Post's storied history and Bezos' personal wealth, it suddenly doesn't seem like much at all. The deal is expected to close in sixty days and includes Greater Washington Publishing, the Gazette newspapers, Express, El Tiempo Latino and Robinson Terminal as well as the Washington Post. Once the sale is completed, Bezos will become the sole owner of the Washington Post newspaper and the Washington Post Co will change its name and continue operating without its flagship publication.
Check out Bezos' full letter to Washington Post staff below: