His university colleague Jill Olmsted said she was “in shock, astonished and concerned.”
“I think any thinking person is going to have to be concerned because there is going to be new people in place even though they are keeping the same leadership for right now,” Olmsted said. “It is only logical to expect that there is going to be change.”
Through the prism of those who have prospered in the Internet-based world that has emerged as the primary platform for news, the Bezos purchase seemed a perfect marriage.
“This is a very smart transaction,” said Ted Leonsis, the former AOL executive who owns the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals. “Jeff Bezos is one of the best businessmen in the world and one of the wealthiest individuals on the planet. He will be a fantastic steward of this media property.”
Leonsis credited the Graham family, which has owned The Post since 1933, for finding a buyer who will convert the newspaper from a publicly traded company into private hands.
“It allows the paper to be invested in and transformed outside of the harsh light of Wall Street demands,” he said. “This is stunning news but, on reflection, quite good news for people in D.C.”
Bezos was among the investors who put $10 million a year ago into Georgetown-based online education company EverFi, which provides K-12 schools and colleges with digital tutorials that teach students life skills such as financial literacy often missing from classroom curricula.
“Their approach with us has been they’re very hands-off on the operations of the business,” chief executive Tom Davidson said.
Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television and the RLJ Companies, described Bezos as a “very smart businessman. “
“I am convinced that Jeff will bring the same journalistic integrity to The Washington Post that has been represented by Katharine Graham and her son Donald,” Johnson said. “Those of us who expect quality journalism and integrity in reporting will continue to receive that with the additional innovative ideas Jeff will bring.”
Leonard E. Moodispaw, chief executive of Hanover-based cybersecurity company KEYW, said he reads The Post and the New York Times every morning.
“I count on The Washington Post for quality reporting,” he said. “I’m afraid that it will lose that objectivity and that quality.
“Bezos made a lot of money out of Amazon,” Moodispaw said. “But if he, like other owners, is going to be driven by the bottom line, then you start losing good people, good reporters, and you start cutting corners.
“That’s just losing the local flavor, the local quality that we have with The Post,” he added. “I’m obviously stunned.”
Rick Wartzman, executive director of the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University, called the sale “really good news.” He said that everything he knows about Bezos indicates that he’s committed to investing for the long term and allowing innovation to “go at a reasonable pace and find itself.”