Wouldn’t it have been a master stroke if Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post on Amazon’s “Daily Deal” Web site?
Still, Jeff Bezos got a bargain when he purchased the Washington Post and all of its assets for $250 million. I think we can assume that Bezos will bring original strategies that continue to fuel Amazon’s growth today to the Post. He has always innovated based on what’s best for the consumer, used data and technology as key differentiators, and resisted gunning for short-term profits. Remember when many people thought that Amazon would never make money or they would run out of cash? Sounds very much like how people feel about newspaper companies right now. But that’s because most people value newspapers based on their declining revenues, not their brand, influence, audience and potential.
So what will the Post look like after Bezos applies his Amazon behaviors and lessons? More customized news and information? Easier-to-find the news you want? For a fee? Will the Post become the predominant electronic news outlet for most of the country (or the world?), surpassing regional and local news outlets? Also, after watching the growth of Amazon Prime members, I suspect that Bezos will figure out a way to grow paid subscribers; although I suspect that those subscribers will be subscribing to something other than access to the Post web site. I also think we’ll see the Post compete with its own advertisers, much like Amazon does. Amazon has created a place where everyone is invited to participate and share, in order to create a robust, comprehensive resource for buying product. I think we could be watching the Post turn into the launching pad for a new “Google” – a new robust, comprehensive resource for finding information. I don’t think anyone would deny that today’s information search could be improved upon.
And bottom-line, I think we’ll see a reinvention of an industry that has always been about brand, influence, and audience. Newspaper leadership has just been blind to the potential, because they had a cash cow for so long and were so unprepared for the online world. I guess in this case, you could say that, necessity is the mother of reinvention. I look forward to watching this grand media experiment, and whether or not this personal distraction for Bezos impacts Amazon. What do you think?