Three key factors in Jeff Bezos’s acquisition of The Washington Post

Jeff Bezos agreed to the acquisition of the Washington Post for $250M on August 5, 2013. As it is known, the numbers of The Washington Post are not encouraging. In the first half of 2013, The Post reported losses of $49 million, and an average weekly circulation decline of 8.4% compared to the same period last year.

This article, which appeared in The Post the first week of September, shares some insights on what Bezos has in mind. I think some of his ideas are useful for any printed media.

According to Bezos, The Post faces two business problems they have to address:

  • The Rewrite problem. They cannot spend weeks or months on projects that, according to Bezos, “a website like the Huffington Post could rewrite in 17 minutes.” (I couldn’t help thinking operational efficiency)

  • The Debundling problem: the web has “debundled” the paper so that people can read one story and move on to a different site, instead of reading one story and then passing to other sections of the paper.

Also interesting, according to the article, Bezos’s decision to buy the newspaper was based on three key factors, what he called “three gates”:

  • Despite its problems, The Post is still influential and remains an important institution.

  • Bezos is convinced the company can be successful, among other things, because The Post retains a talented staff of journalists.

  • The third gate: he asked himself, can I personally make a difference? He thinks he can.

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