In an almost entirely unanticipated (at least by us mere consumers of the paper) development, the Graham family has sold the Washington Post to Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. The existing management of the paper, including Graham family scion Katherine Weymouth, the publisher, will remain in place (at least for now), and no layoffs of WaPo staff are in the works (at least for now). Amazon itself has nothing to do with the purchase.
You can read Paul Fahri’s vast piece on the sale at WaPo, of course. Here’s the key graph on what was and wasn’t included:
The sale to Bezos involves The Post and its website (washingtonpost.com), along with the Express newspaper, the Gazette Newspapers and Southern Maryland Newspapers in suburban Washington, the Fairfax County Times, the Spanish-language El Tiempo Latino newspaper, and the Robinson Terminal production plant in Springfield. Bezos will also purchase the Comprint printing operation in Gaithersburg, which publishes several military publications.
The deal does not include the company’s headquarters on 15th St. NW in Washington (the building has been for sale since February), or Foreign Policy magazine, Slate.com, the Root.com, the WaPo Labs digital-development operation or Post-owned land along the Potomac River in Alexandria.
Here’s Fahri’s quick backgrounder on Bezos’ political leanings, to the extent they are known:
Bezos, who ranks 11th on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest individuals in America with a net worth of $23.2 billion, has given little indication of his ideological leanings over the years. He hasn’t been a heavy contributor to political campaigns, although he and his wife have regularly donated to the campaign of Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash). In years past, they had given modest contributions to a handful of Republican and Democratic senators.
Bezos’ political profile rose suddenly and sharply when he and his wife agreed last year to donate $2.5 million to help pass a referendum that would legalize same-sex marriage in Washington State, catapulting them to the top ranks of financial backers of gay rights in the country. The donation doubled the money available to the initiative, which was approved last November and made Washington among the first states to pass same-sex marriage by popular vote.
Perhaps the single biggest item on Amazon’s legislative agenda is a bill that would empower all states to collect sales tax from online retailers.
Amazon is only required to collect sales taxes in states where it maintains a physical presence such as a warehouse. But Amazon now is supporting the bill, which has passed the Senate and is pending in the House. State sales taxes no longer pose a real threat to Amazon: With an emphasis on same-day shipping, the company is building distribution warehouses across the country and would have to pay the tax anyway.
All very interesting.