Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Amazon.com Founder Buys WaPo in $250m Cash Deal

Image representing Jeff Bezos as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase
After an 80-year grip on the company, the Graham family has agreed to sell The Washington Post and affiliated publications to the 49-year-old founder of Amazon.com, Jeffrey P. Bezos, in a $250 million cash deal, the Post reported today.

Days after Boston Red Sox owner John Henry agreed to buy The Boston Globe  from The New York Times Co. for $70 million cash, Bezos will bring his expertise in digital companies and $25.2 billion net worth to the owner's chair of the newspaper that helped bring down the presidency of Richard M. Nixon with its Watergate scandal coverage.  Seattle-based Amazon.com will have no role in WaPo, with Bezos dipping into his pocket money to become sole owner.

The Post article reported that Bezos, who started Amazon.com 19 years ago with a $300,000 stake from his parents, plans to take the enterprise private.  Executive Editor Marty Baron will stay on, as will Publisher Katherine Weymouth, niece of Post Co. Chair Donald Graham.

The deal is expected to be finalized within 60 days.  In a letter published in the Post, Bezos said he plans to remain in Seattle and pledged "[t]he paper's duty will remain to its readers and not the private interests of its owners."  There was no suggestion of any layoffs of the WaPo staff, which is roughly 2,000 strong.

As reported by this blog (see "TUOL" 5/6/13 post), the Post has struggled mightily in recent years, with its revenues declining from $957 million in 2005 to $581 million last year. The metropolitan daily lost $53 million last year and saw its circulation in 2012 dip to 471,000, compared to 705,000 in 2005.

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