Innovation is known for disrupting traditional industries while creating fortunes for new technology makers. Two of the biggest examples of this may be what Amazon did to the retail industry and what the Internet did to print publications. Now those two worlds are colliding as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is buying The Washington Post for $250 million.
The announcement of Bezos’ purchase is quite surprising. Although the price of $250 million is no big deal for the Amazon founder, considering his estimated net worth is $25 billion, the old newspaper industry does not match with the tech savvy entrepreneur—especially since he was quoted as saying, “there will be no printed newspapers in the next 20 years.” He also stated that he doesn’t think a subscription model will work for news outlets on the Internet, which ironically, The Washington Post currently has.
However, maybe what Jeff Bezos will be doing with The Washington Post is reinventing the old news outlet, and the traditional newspaper industry as a whole. That is, after all that he accomplished with Amazon in the retail sector, maybe he can do it again. As reported by the nytimes.com:
“Now, Mr. Bezos — a man known for being an unsentimental businessman — has invested squarely in a sentimental business steeped in tradition. Of course, The Washington Post deal could feed his demonstrated appetite for reinventing venerable industries, from retailing to book publishing. Amazon’s Kindle business has turned Mr. Bezos from a merchant into a media mogul, as celebrated in some circles as another digital disrupter, Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s former chief executive.”
There’s also something more important at stake here. Media is one of the most valuable outlets a business person could control, especially when that business person is currently the CEO of the largest retail outlet in history controlling about 25% of the market. And although The Washington Post purchase was to Bezos personally – not Amazon as a company – he’s still going to be deeply involved in both. From there, the possibilities are endless. From using the outlet to achieve his political agenda, for example, to his continued effort to not pay sales tax. Or I could also foresee using the Post to influence people to buy products that would of course be sold through Amazon.
Of course these are just possibilities. What we do know is that Jeff Bezos is a long-term play kind of guy. And while most people may not understand his The Washington Post purchase, I think he just got a pretty big piece of the long-term puzzle for just pennies on the dollar.