Amazon founder to buy Washington Post
Shares of the Washington Post Co climbed more than 5 percent, their highest level in almost five years.
WASHINGTON - Amazon.com Inc founder Jeff Bezos will buy the Washington Post newspaper for $250 million in a surprise deal that ends the Graham family's 80-year ownership and hands one of the country's most influential publications to the tech entrepreneur.
Bezos, hailed by many as a visionary who helped transform Internet retail, called his acquisition a personal endeavor and reassured Post employees and readers he will preserve the paper's journalistic tradition, while driving innovation.
The acquisition, the latest in a flurry of recent media deals including the New York Times Co's sale of the Boston Globe for $70 million, is a further indication of the unprecedented challenges newspapers face as advertising revenue and readership decline.
Shares of the Washington Post Co climbed more than 5 percent to $599.85 after hours - their highest level in almost five years.
Bezos said, "I understand the critical role the Post plays in Washington, DC and our nation, and the Post's values will not change."
"There will of course be change at the Post over the coming years. That's essential and would have happened with or without new ownership," he added. "We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment."
Bezos, who has built Seattle-based Amazon.com into a shopping and online technology force over the last two decades, made a small foray into media earlier this year with a small investment in Internet news site Business Insider.
Warren Buffett owns a slice of its parent company, Washington Post Co, whose operating income has plummeted almost 40 percent since 2008, to $146.2 million in 2012.
"I doubt it is a financially oriented investment for him as much as a chance to play a more important role as a steward of an important public trust/asset," said James Barksdale, President of Atlanta investment firm Equity Investment Corp.
Barksdale said his firm didn't own Washington Post shares because he thought they traded higher than he thought justified, "probably due to the Buffett halo," he added.
Bezos will buy the Post along with other newspaper assets from the Washington Post Co. Amazon.com is to be kept separate from the Post deal, according to the Washington Post.
Washington Post Chairman and Chief Executive Donald E. Graham, whose family owns the paper, explained his decision to part ways with the publication, which will continue to be headed on a daily basis by CEO Katharine Weymouth.