Letter from Donald Graham on sale of The Post

Donald Graham, The Washington Post Co.’s chief executive, tells Brook Silva-Braga how the company began considering potential buyers and the time line of his talks with Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos. The Fold will post the full interview with Graham on Tuesday. (The Washington Post)
August 5, 2013

All,

I have a most surprising announcement. Our company is making it public right now that we have sold The Washington Post to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. To be clear, the buyer is not Amazon, but a company owned by Jeff personally. The price is $250 million, and what we are selling includes the weekly papers called, for shorthand, the Gazettes and Robinson Terminal.

This leaves me with two questions: Why are we selling, and why to Jeff? The first question is much the harder.

All the Grahams in this room have been proud to know since we were very little that we were part of the family that owned The Washington Post. We have loved the paper, what it stood for, and those who produced it.

But the point of our ownership has always been that it was supposed to be good for The Post. As the newspaper business continued to bring up questions to which we have no answers, Katharine and I began to ask ourselves if our small public company was still the best home for the newspaper. Our revenues had declined seven years in a row. We had innovated, and to my critical eye our innovations had been quite successful in audience and in quality, but they hadn’t made up for the revenue decline. Our answer had to be cost cuts, and we knew there was a limit to that. We were certain the paper would survive under our ownership, but we wanted it to do more than that. We wanted it to succeed.

Timeline

The major events that have shaped the Washington Post Co.

Don

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