When you Google “who owns The Washington Post” you are rewarded with this answer “Nash Holdings LLC,” but who is the owner of this company? Is it Jeff Bezos?
Yes, Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post. In 2013, Bezos made the decision to move forward with the purchase of The Washington Post. In order to do so, Bezos created the limited liability holding company known as Nash Holdings, LLC. He purchased the Post for $250 million.
Read on to find out more on why a tech giant would want to buy a newspaper company that was bleeding out all income.
Why Buy The Washington Post?
In a 2018 interview with The Economic Club, Bezos went into great detail about his decision to purchase The Washington Post. He states that he was first approached by Donald Graham about purchasing the newspaper and its affiliate media companies. Initially, Bezos had no interest in getting involved with a newspaper company. Especially not one that was high-cost and bleeding money.
Graham, however, managed to convince Bezos that the reason they were interested in him acquiring the company was due to his knowledge of the internet. The Washington Post Company, owned by Graham at the time, felt that Bezos could bring invaluable knowledge and expertise. This knowledge and expertise could help the company start turning a profit in this new age of technology.
Bezos thought about the proposal and eventually made the decision to go ahead with the acquisition. As this Forbes article states, the decision Bezos made was based more on intuition than any analytical data. You can watch the full interview that The Economic Club did with Bezos by clicking the YouTube link below.
Turning a Flop into Profit
In 2013, before Bezos purchased The Washington Post, the newspaper reported a 14% loss in earnings for its second quarter. In 2014, after the acquisition was final, one of Bezos’ first moves was to remove paywalls for subscribers of certain local newspapers. This immediately helped to increase the readership, which turned out to be Bezos’ goal for the long term. He decided to change the business model to focus on bringing in more readers. The strategy worked and The Washington Post announced a profit for the first time in a long time in 2016.
While other newspaper businesses were announcing cuts to save on cost, The Washington Post was moving to a larger building to support its growth. In this CNN Business article, it’s even stated that “Since the acquisition, the paper has hired more than 250 people growing its newsroom to about 900.”
Conflict of Interest Accusations
When Bezos took over the media company, there was a lot of speculation surrounding whether or not a conflict of interest would arise. Would the Post still be able to report unbiasedly about Amazon? Would Bezos step in to shut down any negative narrative arising from the Post about him or his other companies?
These accusations appear to be unfounded. Almost seven years after the acquisition, Washington Post employees maintain that Bezos keeps his distance. Even when the allegations of an affair and extortion arose, The Washington Post staffers maintained this story. Martin Baron, a Washington Post journalist sent the below statement to the New York Times at the time of the scandal:
“Jeff has never gotten involved in our reporting or our final stories,” he said. “People surmise that it must be difficult to cover Jeff and Amazon. But we’ve gone five and a half years with his ownership, and he hasn’t once intervened in any way.”Martin Baron
With Bezos owning The Washington Post one thing is clear throughout the story, he rode in like a knight in shining armor to save a crumbling giant. Bezos was able to take the 142-year old newspaper that was slowly dying and usher it into a new age. Like King Midas, Jeff Bezos appears to have the golden touch.