People weigh in on the sell of the Post… this one from one of the Facebook founders who bought the New Republic.. being a twenty-something and a multi-millionaire..
But the thinking is simplistic and flawed… based around “value of brands”… even with a grand history.. things change.. and businesses die.. betting a future income on a dying brand is bad economics..
And Jonathan Alter’s comment yesterday might be closer to the truth.. newspapers returning as playthings of the rich.. but now like yachts and “estate of yore”…. not “core biz”..
It turns out Silicon Valley does give a damn about Washington. With Jeff Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post and the efforts of Mark Zuckerberg’s FWD.us, the Internet’s enormous riches are showing up on the doorstep of Washington’s elites.
For most beltway insiders, the new arrivals are perplexing. The logic of Silicon Valley couldn’t be more different than Washington’s: start small, think big, and above all, don’t be afraid to break things.
All of which begs the question of Bezos: Why bother? Is he acting out of simple vanity or is there some business insight that he has that others don’t? (The same questions have been asked of me since I bought The New Republic.)
While no one has found the formula that will bring old media into a profitable future, I’m guessing that Bezos understands an old truism: brands matter. The wonder and magic of institutions like the Post or The New Republic is their history–their stories track the American story. In many cases, they have made that very history through their reporting. No owner can brush aside these powerful legacies, regardless of his or her start-up bona fides. In fact, brands matter more now than when Don Graham’s grandfather bought the Post nearly a hundred years ago, particularly when they have established themselves so securely as the Post has.