Bezos Purchase of WashPost Will Reinvent Struggling Brand
Jeff Bezos’ purchase of The Washington Post is indicative of the disruptive change happening in the newspaper business. Within the past week, we’ve witnessed the New York Times’ sale of the Boston Globe, major staff layoffs in Cleveland and throughout Gannett newspapers.
The Washington Post sale is shocking, but it’s not the end of the world. Many news veterans are fearful. That’s understandable. He purchased one of the most iconic media brands in the world for $250 million. Consider this is a positive sign that “old school” management approaches to running the newspaper business are outdated. Don Graham and his publisher Katharine Weymouth admit that they had reached the end of their limits to turning around the business of newspapering that has morphed into a multiplatform business – well beyond the printed product.
Bezos brings a new perspective, new energy and undoubtedly a more e-centric approach to running a business. He brings the experience of being a DotCom entrepreneur. He has seen the good, the bad and the ugly of the Amazon.com model. What he does understand is disruption. He changed the way books are bought, sold and read, then expanded his business into a vast e-commerce empire generating revenues last year of $67 billion and a market cap of $137 billion. (Note, Washington Post had revenues of $4 billion and a market cap of $.4 billion. )He has the business savvy to understand that technology can not solely run any business, especially the newspaper business. With his Amazon background, Bezos does understand consumer buying patterns, customization and marketing.
Basede on Bezos’ initial comment, he has said he values quality journalism. That’s a plus and should ease the fears of many who are concerned. He will surround himself with a diverse group of advisers to preserve – maybe even resurrect the Washington Post brand that is but a shadow of itself.
Better days are ahead for the Washington Post. The process to get there will be difficult. The potential is huge for creating new business model for the modern day newspaper that integrates quality journalism, technology and a profit. Bezos move is a sign that every media brand – particularly newspapers – are a target for tech-savvy entrepreneurs who still need a legacy brand to sustain their digital future.
NOTE: The publisher of this blog and author of this post worked as a reporter at The Washington Post in the late 1980s.