As speculations surface for what we should be seeing out of The Washington Post under the new ownership of Amazon Chief, Jeff Bezos, the answer might not be cleared up for quite some time. It is no secret that Bezos is notorious for his resistance to short-term profit in favor of long-term vision. Now, even with a statement he made that he still doesn’t have a fully worked out plan, history will show that Bezos has some general understanding of how he expects things to pan out. In fact, as a sub-sect of his long-term mindset, all his past acquisitions tend to turn profitable according to plan.
This is what makes him one of the top CEO’s… even Warren Buffet agrees. In an interview with Washington Post Chairman and CEO, Don Graham, Graham speaks of Buffet, saying “He’s a big fan of Jeff’s long-term focus, patience and not being distracted by Wall Street.”
This patience is coupled with a keen customer-centric focus. In a letter written to Washington Post employees, Bezos asserts “Our touchstone will be readers, understanding what they care about — government, local leaders, restaurant openings, scout troops, businesses, charities, governors, sports — and working backwards from there.”
This pinpoints how his vision is aligned with keeping a relevant focus.
This being said, and amidst all of these known characteristics that Bezos possesses, we shouldn’t be surprised with whatever path he ends up taking. In an interview last year with a German Newspaper, Bezos uses his knowledge of long-term success to confidently predict, “There is one thing I’m certain about: There won’t be printed newspapers in twenty years.”
His intentions here can definitely be to eliminate or significantly decrease print publication, which would be quite relevant to the online media space: making a greater scaled push towards fully digital newspapers.
A WSJ article on the topic mentions that “although Mr. Bezos bought the paper in a personal capacity, many media-industry experts expressed optimism that the Amazon.com Inc. founder will be able to apply to the Post the same software development, data gathering and e-commerce chops — as well as his patient investment philosophy — that turned his company into a powerhouse.”
Others speculate that this is just a philanthropic-purposed acquisition that will hopefully yield him a return.
Even though Bezos has refused any interviews on the topic, he has publicized that he will not be looking over the Posts’ day-to-day operations. Whatever his true intentions are, it is exciting to wait and see if his actions will reflect some type of leverage of Amazon and the digital space to push newspapers into a different direction, one that has already been implemented by the online publications of the NY Times and the WSJ.
I think the only approach for skeptics and enthusiasts alike to take is to mimic Bezos and wait patiently as his next move is planned.