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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Daily Report: For Washington Post, a Promise of Innovation

With Jeffrey P. Bezos, the billionaire founder and chief executive of Amazon, buying The Washington Post, observers are now wondering how he will bring his technological background to bear upon the newspaper, Jenna Wortham and Amy O’Leary report.

If Mr. Bezos’s business history is any indication, don’t expect a quick answer and don’t expect any short-term fixes for The Post, which has experienced years of sliding revenue and circulation. While terms like disrupter and innovator are often used to describe Mr. Bezos in his years at Amazon, he has also proved to be a long-term thinker, someone willing to buck Wall Street demands for big profits in order to invest in his company’s growth.

Now that he is the private owner of The Post, it would not be surprising to see him worry little about turning a quick profit and instead push to upend the often ossified world of newspaper publishing, just as he did with books more than a decade ago.

Indeed, Mr. Bezos, who declined a request for an interview, hinted in a letter to employees that he felt a “need to invent, which means we will need to experiment,” and that “there will, of course, be change at The Post over the coming years.”

But just what those experiments will be is anyone’s guess.

“Jeff Bezos doesn’t need The Washington Post to make money tomorrow or even in five years,” said Glenn Kelman, the founder and chief executive of Redfin, a real estate site that, like Amazon, is based in Seattle. “He’s proven that he’s able to think over a geological time scale.”