Jeff Bezos's buy of Washington Post brings digital age to doorsteps

In this week's Searchlight: Jeff Bezos's purchase of The Washington Post turns a page in the digital age; a unique spin on data collection and more.

What kind of fool would buy a newspaper in the digital age? The same kind of fool who thought it would be profitable to sell discounted books via the Internet. That's the news this week.

Karen GoulartKaren Goulart

The official statement on Jeff Bezos's purchase of The Washington Post comes with a reminder that this acquisition was made by Bezos as an individual, not by Amazon. And if you believe the business and the businessman can be separated, I've got a greatly discounted bridge to sell you; it will ship in 3-5 business days.

In his "meet the new boss" message to Post employees, Bezos promised some things will stay the same, but change is to be expected -- at some point. Elaborate, he did not. But he did say this: "We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment. I'm excited and optimistic about the opportunity for invention." The mad scientist is already at work.

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As Los Angeles Times business writer Michael Hiltzik put it: Bezos is looking forward to turning the Post into a laboratory. And remember, this is the same man who once famously told Amazon stockholders, "We are willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time."

A mad scientist and brave to boot. The employees at the Post have reason to be alarmed, and the few remaining major newspapers in this country are no doubt shaking in their shoes. But CIOs (at least those who are not at media companies), should just be taking notes on how this digital disruption stuff is done.

  • There are plenty of theories on why Jeff Bezos would want to buy The Washington Post; here are a bunch in convenient list form.
  • And this week's winner of creepy data-gathering technology goes to… a recycling bin that tracks passersby! Because you need to see personalized advertisements when trashing your Starbucks cup.
  • Think Yahoo would do this for you? Edward Snowden's email provider allegedly goes out of business instead of cooperating with the feds.
  • A confounding, confusing tax on tech in Massachusetts doesn't need to be better explained, it needs to be scrapped, The Boston Globe opines.
  • The team that brought you that black hole of cute kittens, laughing babies and ill-advised backyard stunts (that'd be YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen) has returned with an innovative twist on Vine/Instagram that they hope will appeal to their vast audience of uploaders.
  • CIOs, you know how you fought to get that "seat at the table" in the C-suite? Yeah, forget all that.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Karen Goulart, features writer.

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