WASHINGTON — Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos is buying The Washington Post. Here’s a memo sent Monday to staff from Don Graham, CEO and chairman of The Washington Post Co.
“I have a most surprising announcement. Our company is making it public right now that we have sold The Washington Post to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. To be clear, the buyer is not Amazon, but a company owned by Jeff personally. The price is $250 million and what we are selling includes the weekly papers called for shorthand The Gazettes and Robinson Terminal.
“This leaves me with two questions: why are we selling and why to Jeff? The first question is much the harder.
“All the Grahams in this room have been proud to know since we were very little that we were part of the family that owned The Washington Post. We have loved the paper, what it stood for, and those who produced it.
“But the point of our ownership has always been that it was supposed to be good for the Post. As the newspaper business continued to bring up questions to which we have no answers, Katharine and I began to ask ourselves if our small public company was still the best home for the newspaper. Our revenues had declined seven years in a row. We had innovated and to my critical eye our innovations had been quite successful in audience and in quality, but they hadn’t made up for the revenue decline. Our answer had to be cost cuts and we knew there was a limit to that. We were certain the paper would survive under our ownership, but we wanted it to do more than that. We wanted it to succeed.”
From Katharine Weymouth
Here’s a memo sent Monday to staff from Katharine Weymouth, publisher and CEO of The Washington Post.
“This is a day that my family and I never expected to come. The Washington Post Company is selling the newspaper it has owned and nurtured for eight decades.
“In addition to The Washington Post, the company is selling Greater Washington Publishing, the Gazette newspapers, Express, El Tiempo Latino and Robinson Terminal.
“The buyer is one of America’s great innovators and most respected business leaders, Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer and founder of Amazon.com. Jeff is making this acquisition in his personal capacity and not as part of Amazon.
“In his own remarks, Don has addressed why the company has made this decision. I want to focus on the future. I firmly believe that today’s announcement represents a remarkable opportunity for us, unique among media companies. In Jeff we have found an owner who believes in The Post as a business but also cares deeply about the role it serves in our society.
“Jeff is widely known, of course, as the founder and CEO of Amazon. He is a proven entrepreneur who, like the Graham family and this company, takes the long-term view in his investments. While he expects The Post to remain profitable, his focus is on the essential role that our journalism has on dialogue and the flow of information in our society.
“Jeff knows as well as anyone the opportunities that come with revolutionary technology when we understand how to make the most of it. Under his ownership, we will be able to accelerate the pace and quality of innovation.
“I am incredibly proud of the work that we have done together over the past 5 years, and I know that sentiment is shared by the entire senior management team.
“Because of your outstanding efforts, The Washington Post newspaper division has made money (excluding restructuring and non-cash expenses) in each of the last three years and in every year except one before that. We are particularly proud that we have been able to do this while maintaining and investing in the quality and ambition of our journalism.
“With Jeff as our owner, this is not an end for us but the beginning of an exciting new era. I am sharing separately remarks he has written to you, the employees of The Washington Post. I think you will see in those remarks the kind of owner you will be proud to work for and why we are excited about a future with him.
“Jeff will remain in Seattle. He has asked that I remain as your Publisher and CEO. I am honored to do so. I have asked the entire senior management team to continue in their roles as well. And I hope that you, too, will join us in a future that is filled with opportunity.
“While I know that an announcement of this sort inevitably causes anxiety and uncertainty, we owe it to our readers and ourselves to make this transition as smooth as possible.
“Our mission does not change. Nor do the values that have been at the core of The Post’s enduring strength over many decades. Jeff shares the principles that have guided the Graham family’s proud stewardship of this great news organization.
“I will be talking to as many of you as I can over coming days, weeks and months. I know that there will be many questions about what this means for the organization as a whole and for each of you individually. We will do our very best to keep you informed with regular updates as we have news to share. …
“Nothing is more important to this company than the people who work here. Be assured that we will never lose sight of that as we open a new chapter in the storied history of this great company.