Published on: December 21, 2015by Kevin Coupe
Bloomberg this weekend had a story about the impact that Amazon founder/CEO Jeff Bezos is having in another venue ... the Washington Post, which he bought more than two years ago for $250 million.
"Bezos has shaped its digital transformation in ways big and small," the story says. "His behind-the-scene influence has yielded a milestone: The newspaper has surpassed the New York Times in unique Web visitors two months running.
"After Bezos acquired the Post -- as an individual buyer and not as part of e-commerce giant Amazon -- he said he had no formula for rescuing the declining newspaper industry, and promised an era of experimentation. 'I didn’t know anything about the newspaper business,' Bezos said last year at a media conference. 'But I did know something about the Internet. That, combined with the financial runway that I can provide, is the reason why I bought the Post'."
His ownership of the Post may be separate from his Amazon holdings, but that doesn't mean Bezos isn't using one to help the other:
"While he hasn’t expressed opinions about the Post’s journalism and has only visited the newsroom a few times, Bezos has been hands-on with its technology and instrumental in making it a more data-driven company, said Shailesh Prakash, the Post’s chief information officer ... In September, the newspaper said that Amazon Prime subscribers can get online access to the national edition free for six months, with an option to continue subscribing at 60 percent off. Late last year, the Post introduced an app that comes preinstalled on Amazon Kindle Fire tablets -- a project Bezos was deeply involved with, Prakash said.
"The Post has hired some engineers from Amazon, and its data scientists talk regularly with their Amazon counterparts, getting tips on how to recommend stories better based on Amazon’s approach to recommending products to consumers, Prakash said."
The Bezos investment also has allowed the Post to invest in better and more journalism, which allows the company to focus on its core value proposition. And, "as he’s done at Amazon, Bezos requires Post executives to write lengthy memos outlining their projects instead of using PowerPoint presentations, believing that narrative writing forces people to think more deeply."
Marty Baron, executive editor of the Post (and one of the central characters in the movie Spotlight), says that the newspaper's private ownership also is an advantage. “If you’re trying to improve your financial performance quarter to quarter, it would be very difficult to do this,” Baron tells Bloomberg. “If you take the longer view and are willing to accept the market will take the longer view as well, or you don’t care, then you can make these kinds of investments.”
Wow. A long-term view that looks at what works on Main Street. It is an Eye-Opener.
- KC's View: