The Washington Post, one of the last family-owned private media companies, is being sold to Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. The post has had shrinking revenue for the last ten years as it struggles to keep up with the rise of social media and mobile consumption. The Washington Post’s CEO, Donald E. Graham, felt strong hesitation to sell, but knew it could be the best choice for the paper in order to have better capital to fund it and to keep it from its gradual landslide. Bezos is buying the company for $250 million, a price that some claim is a tenth of what it could have sold for a decade ago.
Donald Graham and Jeff Bezos have a long term professional relationship. Graham had been a mentor figure to Bezos while Amazon was still up and coming. Graham is the fourth generation family CEO of the Post, and he says it was difficult for him to make the decision to sell. At the end of last year, several executives began to meet and talk about the options. Graham’s niece, who is the head publisher, told Post reporters that Graham cared about the company so deeply that he could not sell to the company to anyone who did not have the paper’s best interests. Donald Graham said that Jeff Bezos truly understands the way to reach a digital audience. Graham cites that Warren Buffet has called Bezos the best CEO in the United States, and that he will give thought and attention to every challenge.
Bezos has told reporters in the past that in “twenty years newspapers won’t exist anymore”, so it may be curious as to why he is interested in owning the company. However, Jeff Bezos is a visionary that has largely changed the way we consume media. While there is some speculation about what a rich and powerful CEO would want with a newspaper company, one cannot argue with the fact that Bezos is out to change the world, and holding audience is only part of the puzzle.