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Bezos: The first digital mogul?

Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - 01:51

Aug 6 - Amazon's Jeff Bezos could become the first blue-blooded digital mogul despite his low political profile. Fred Katayama reports.

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The mega rich are buying newspapers as if they were ball clubs ... but these trophies are going for a song. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos buying the storied Washington Post for $250 million. Boston Red Sox owner John Henry taking the Boston Globe for $70 million; Warren Buffett scooping up Media General's dailies for $142 million. And with the Koch brothers and Eli Broad on the hunt, newspapers are going back to the 19th century when print was the property of gilded industrialists. What sets Bezos apart: he's the first digital blueblood. But will he use that digital brain to become a media mogul like Randolph Hearst, Rupert Murdoch and the mythical Citizen Kane? He owns stakes in Twitter and Business Insider. His company dominates the book retailing business, earns hundreds of millions of dollars a year in ad revenue, and streams videos onto tablets it makes. But unlike other moguls, he hasn't wielded a political bullhorn, except to back gay marriage and fight higher taxes on the wealthy. Regardless, the newspaper that broke Watergate will give him political clout and prestige in the nation's capital, where his company has lobbied on tax issues. He says he'll let the current management team run the Post, but expect some changes. He once said newspapers won't be around in 20 years, leading some to wonder whether he'll turn the Post into an online daily. And he wrote the book on disrupting businesses: just look at what happened to the publishing industry. Two things he and his new baby have in common: love of the printed word and tolerance for razor-thin profits. His executive meetings begin with silent readings of six-page memos as if it were study hall. The Post, where revenue fell for seven straight years, will test his patience and show whether he's in it for profits or philanthropy.

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Bezos: The first digital mogul?

Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - 01:51