In a surprise announcement on Monday afternoon the Washington Post said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is buying the storied newspaper and its publishing business.
The deal includes The Washington Post and other publishing businesses, including Spanish-language weekly El Tiempo Latino, the Express newspaper, The Gazette Newspapers, Southern Maryland Newspapers, Fairfax County Times, and Greater Washington Publishing. However, other publications like online magazine Slate, Foreign Policy or TheRoot.com ar not included in the deal.
Bezos will pay $250 million in cash for the business. It appears he financed the transactions through cashing out a large amount of Amazon stock. The Washington Post Co.’s newspaper division, of which the Post newspaper is the most prominent part, has suffered a 44 percent decline in operating revenue over the past six years. Katharine Weymouth will continue to be publisher of The Washington Post and the operational aspects of the business are not expected to change. Members of Spanish-language weekly El Tiempo Latino tell Portada that “it is business as usual.”
This is the second major newspaper being sold to investors outside of the newspaper industry in less than a week.
Amazon will have no role in the purchase; Bezos himself will buy the news organization and become its sole owner when the sale is completed, probably within 60 days. Bezos is also an investor in business portal Business Insider. The Post Co. which also owns education company Kaplan will change to a new, still-undecided name and continue as a publicly traded company without The Post thereafter.
More influence for Amazon in Washington DC?
Some observers note that one of the motivations for Jeff Bezos to buy the Washington Post could lie in having more influence among Washington DC decision makers and law makers. Particularly influence on Internet and e-commerce regulation. “Something tells me that Amazon’s influence in Washington just increased dramatically. I expect that federal treatment of online sales will now closely mirror Amazon’s interests,” says a user of the PaidContent website.
The Washington Post is the second major newspaper that gets sold, and two individual investors outside of the newspaper industry in less than a week. Last weekend, The New York Times Co. sold the Boston Globe to John W. Henry, the owner of the Boston Red Sox.