The Buzz asked business leaders last week what they thought of the Graham family’s decision to sell The Washington Post (and Capital Business) to Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. Here’s some of what they said:
“Running The Post following the Graham family is a tough assignment. Nonetheless, I can’t think of a better leader than Jeff Bezos. The Grahams did everything that they could to think and invest for the long term, but as a private company, The Post under Bezos will have time to reinvent itself outside the scrutiny that all public companies face. Mr. Bezos brings many important attributes to this assignment: He is a lover of information, wickedly smart, a highly successful business leader and, based on his letter to the employees, savvy about the legacy that he has inherited.
“The Post needs to find a way to fix its cost structure. It can do this by reducing cost or increasing revenue. I expect Jeff to invent and invest his way into growing the business. I am sure that the new Post will learn from many things that Jeff did well at Amazon: Focus on the customer, deliver customized information and generally increase the reader’s awareness of and perceived brand value of The Post and its offerings. “
-Ralph Terkowitz, partner at ABS Capital Partners and former Washington Post chief technology officer and founder of washingtonpost.com
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“Jeff Bezos is all about using innovative technology to satisfy customers. It could be the perfect solution to the challenges facing The Post,”
-David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-chief executive of the Carlyle Group
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“I can understand a natural instinct to try and find somebody else to take on the burden after a while. And I think Jeff Bezos is somebody who will be able to do that and will probably strengthen the paper on many levels because he simply will be able to afford it.
“Since I think Washington desperately needs a newspaper like The Washington Post, I’m looking forward to the possibility that not only will he maintain it, but he will provide it with additional resources to augment it. Now, as somebody said, ‘That is something devoutly to be wished.’
“It will remain to be seen. We know he has the interest in it and the resources for it, and he ain’t stupid. So I wish him well.”
-Mortimer Zuckerman, owner of U.S. News & World Report, the New York Daily News and executive chairman of Boston Properties
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“I have known Jeff for nearly 20 years, from the days when e-commerce was an idea, not yet a business, and he was getting Amazon off the ground. I have watched with admiration as Jeff has built Amazon into the global e-commerce leader by adopting a patient, built-to-last approach.
“Filling the shoes of the Graham family, who have served this community well for nearly a century, will not be easy, but I know Jeff is up to the challenge. He will be a great owner, marrying a keen appreciation for journalism with a deep understanding of the digital future.”
-Steve Case, chairman and chief executive of Revolution and co-founder of America Online
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“The very word newspaper is confining. Newspapers that think they are in the newspaper business will fail. They are in the entertainment and information business. All involved should welcome Jeff. I am certain he will bring new ideas on which we can all build to an exciting future. Amazon has taught him the enduring value of great content, and he saw an opportunity to acquire some and took it.”
-Bill Raduchel, technology veteran and consultant to the Daily Mail and General Trust PLC, one of the largest media conglomerates in the United Kingdom
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“I am a huge fan of The Post. I still receive the daily paper delivered to my home. But the economics of publishing certainly no longer make sense with the current model. Jeff Bezos has demonstrated innovative thinking … and, perhaps more importantly, action. It’s time to try something new and hopefully he will be the guy who can implement the changes necessary for The Post to flourish for the next 100 years. ”
-Early-stage investor Cal Simmons, whose portfolio includes Parature, burger chain Five Guys and hospitality site Five Star Alliance
The largest piece of art in any of Marriott International’s 3,880 properties worldwide is now being installed in the Washington Marriott Marquis, the 1,175-room hotel that opens next May across from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in downtown Washington. The first phase of the installation — it’s that big! — was dropped by crane into the atrium of the hotel a few days ago, where it will be bolted into the ground. The “Birth of the American Flag,” as the sculpture is called, was made by Baltimore artist Rodney Carroll, with input from J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr., chairman of the Bethesda-based hospitality company. The giant sculpture is 56 feet high and weighs 27,000 pounds — more than 13 tons — and is by far the artist’s largest project. The installation is being done in phases and finishes later this month. This is Carroll’s first commission for Marriott, and includes other artwork for the hotel. The sculptor perforated the steel at the base of the artwork to create a “star” effect of the original 13 colonies. The steel bands have been curved to make it look like the “flag” is waving in a breeze.
$3.2BThat’s the value of The Washington Post Co.-owned Cable One cable company. The Washington Post Co.’s decision to sell its flagship newspaper for $250 million means the corporate parent keeps its far more valuable assets, including education, cable TV and broadcast television units, in a publicly held firm that will be renamed after the sale to Jeff Bezos closes later this quarter. The estimate is based on Cable One’s recent subscriber estimates and using the average private market value per subscriber of $5,550, which is in line with what the larger deals have fetched so far this year, according to Kagan media analyst Justin Nielson.