Amazon CEO Bezos Ponies Up $250M To Buy Struggling Washington Post


Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has plunked down $250 million of his own money to buy The Washington Post, the newspaper said Monday.

Bezos' first move was to reassure employees that he's not going to come in and start micro-managing the venerable newspaper, which was founded in 1877, and like many newspapers, has fallen on hard times in recent years.

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In an email to Post employees Monday, Bezos said he plans to keep the newspaper's current management team in place and will oversee its operations from his current home in Seattle.

"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," Bezos said in a Monday email to employees published on the newspaper's website.

That said, Bezos didn't sugarcoat the challenges facing the newspaper industry, which is still trying to adjust to the decimation the Internet has wrought on classified ads and other traditional revenue streams.

Ironically, Amazon's relentless price-cutting has had a similar effect on the retail and book publishing industries, and one could say it's on track to do the same in cloud computing.

But Bezos made it clear that he's entering new and unfamiliar territory in the newspaper business, making it sound like he won't be drawing much on past experience in this particular business endeavor.

"There is no map, and charting a path ahead will not be easy," Bezos told employees in the email. "We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment."

The Post's newspaper division has seen revenue drop 44 percent in the past six years, the newspaper said Monday. It launched a pay wall for Web visitors in June in a bid to stem the decline.

Bezos has said that in the long run, Amazon customers will come to appreciate his commitment to creating great products offered at low prices.

Last November at Amazon's re:Invent partner conference in Las Vegas, he said Amazon's low margins go hand in hand with innovation.

"High margins cover a lot of sinners," Bezos said at the event. "We've spent 18 years [operating with low margins] so it's deeply ingrained in our culture."

Bezos' acquisition of the Post, which will not be connected to Amazon's operations, will put about a 1 percent dent in his estimated personal fortune of $25 billion.

PUBLISHED AUGUST 5, 2013