Jeff Bezos Buys Washington Post For $250 Million, Gets A Few Add-On Items

Newspapers are dirt cheap these days. If you’ve always dreamed of owning one, it’s time to scoop one up. The headline took a lot of people by surprise: Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, bought the Washington Post. What, like he downloaded it on his Kindle? No, he bought the entire paper from the Washington Post Company for $250 million in cash.

The Washington Post Company plans to rename itself, obviously. In addition to the newspaper, the company also owns the education giant Kaplan, the online magazine Slate, a cable comany, a bunch of local television stations, and a health care company.

Within minutes, the jokes started flying on Twitter, but let’s make this clear: Amazon did not buy the Post. Jeff Bezos himself did. He’s not quite sure what he’s going to do with it, either. “I don’t want to imply that I have a worked-out plan,” he told, um, the Post. “This will be uncharted terrain and it will require experimentation.”

The deal doesn’t include just the Post, but also the company’s other print publications like the Express tabloid for commuters and the weekly Spanish paper El Tiempo Latino.

He wrote a memo for Post employees, which was also posted on the paper’s site. Like all memos from the highest bosses, it should be taken with a few giant crystals of rock salt.

I won’t be leading The Washington Post day-to-day. I am happily living in “the other Washington” where I have a day job that I love. Besides that, The Post already has an excellent leadership team that knows much more about the news business than I do, and I’m extremely grateful to them for agreeing to stay on.

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.

Now, Jeff, can you help my friend in Maryland who just canceled the Post because it never got delivered? I hear you’re good with making sure that things get delivered.

Washington Post to be sold to Jeff Bezos [Washington Post]
Jeff Bezos on Post purchase [Washington Post]