Total Pageviews

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Tech Sector’s Mixed Response to Bezos’s Purchase of The Post

For Jeffrey P. Bezos, Washington has been a place of software engineers and Starbucks coffee, not power suits and politics. But, from his tech frontier in Seattle where the company he founded, Amazon.com, is, Mr. Bezos has bridged those far-flung worlds, Nick Wingfield and David Streitfeld write.

On Monday, The Washington Post Company announced that it had been sold to Mr. Bezos for $250 million. It is, in many regards, a pittance for a man who ranked 19th on Forbes magazine’s list of billionaires â€"  a man who rose to prominence by seizing upon an Internet zeitgeist to first disrupt the book business, and then make his company become nearly synonymous with the e-commerce industry as a whole.

So, why would we want to buy a newspaper?

It’s a question that puzzled many in the corridors of the technology industry, including Aaron Levie, the founder of Box, an online data storage company.

Others noted the sale price, which paled in comparison to the valuations of recently purchased or public start-ups.

Others dismissed the purchase as the flashy act of a rich man, the same man that invested in a rocket company and is paying for the creation of a clock buried in a mountain in West Texas that will tick once a year for the next 10,000 years. Mr. Bezos even drew a comparison to the character in “Citizen Kane” inspired by the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.

For a man who has become known not only for his eccentric expenditures but also for his calculated investments, the surprise announcement Monday was also met with optimism.

It led others to wonder why the billionaire might have wanted the publishing company and what he will do with it now that he’s the owner.

Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital suggested that clues could be found in Mr. Bezos’ letters to shareholders, which contained messages over the years about “building an astonishing company.”

The purchase of The Post came more than a year after Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, bought The New Republic magazine. So the deal also prompted speculations about which tech entrepreneur or company would be next to buy an old-media rag.