The Washington Post is being acquired by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos for $250 million. You know a big bang when you hear it, right? So let’s talk about money, power and incentives. Mathew Ingram is making an interesting point in his commentary on GigaOm.
One aspect of the Washington Post deal that makes this shift even more obvious is the fact that Bezos is buying the paper personally, not in his capacity as CEO of Amazon. Presumably, if the Amazon founder thought that a newspaper was a good thing to buy from a financial point of view — as opposed to something he is doing out of a personal commitment to journalism, or the broader social benefits that come from an independent news outlet, or just to have a plaything like a baseball team — he would have done the deal through Amazon.
What makes me excited is that if a guy is acquiring a traditional media business (in need of transformation and change) without any financial incentives, he can theoretically use it as a playground for grown ups and media nerds. Another quote from Ingram’s text:
In the early days of the newspaper industry, they were owned by rich men who had made their fortunes doing something else (real estate, retail, etc.) and were seen as both an outlet for their views about politics and the economy as well as a way of giving back to society…
I may be a bit ahead of things here, but again; Jeff Bezos could – we know he’s got the knowledge, financial firepower and guts to do so – experiment like crazy, continuously A/B test and steer this journalistic institution into the future. For real.