What’s Ahead for Jeff Bezos and The Washington Post

Aug 6, 2013 7:52am

Morning Money Memo…

“Billionaires’ Latest Trophies Are Newspapers” is the headline in the business section of The New York Times after the sale of The Washington Post to Jeff Bezos. The founder and CEO of Amazon is buying the newspaper in a cash deal for $250 million, a price that’s only a fraction of what the Post 10 years ago. Since hitting its peak in 1993, The Washington Post has lost about 40 percent of its circulation and much of its classified advertising to the internet. The decline is similar to the fate of most other large newspapers.

“The purchase of the struggling Washington Post by Jeff Bezos may be the best news the news industry has had in a long time, because it finally puts a true digital native at the helm of a newspaper company,” writes veteran media executive Alan Mutter in the blog, Reflections of a Newsosaur. “With a personal fortune topping $25 billion, Bezos has the demonstrated means, insight and patience to re-envision the business model of an industry that has lost more than half of its primary revenue stream since advertising sales peaked at $49.4 billion in 2005.”

Lydia dePillis, in the Wonkblog column in The Post, insists the sale is not “a charity case” for Bezos. The paper’s website “could be a major new sales and advertising platform,” gathering information on its readers ” in order to figure out what they might want to buy.”

The sale of the Post to Bezos was the third big print deal in three days. Billionaire John Henry purchased the Boston Globe for $70 million and the internet upstart IBT Media bought Newsweek.

President Obama is seeking to shield taxpayers from future housing market downturns, and this week he’ll will urge Congress to support closing mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Starting with a trip to Phoenix today, Obama will also renew his calls for sweeping mortgage refinancing legislation. Phoenix was badly hit when the housing bubble burst in 2008, but since then the market there has rebounded strongly, with home prices up and foreclosures down.

Homeowners are doing a better job of making timely mortgage payments, a trend that brought down the national late-payment rate on home loans in the 2nd quarter to the lowest level in five years. The credit reporting agency Transunion says the percentage of mortgage holders at least two months behind on their payments fell to 4.09 percent from 5.49 percent a year earlier.

A declining market share for iPads. Apple’s slice of the tablet market fell from 60 percent last year to 32 percent in the second quarter according to the firm IDC. Apple is still number one, but shipments by Samsung, Lenovo and Acer all rose while iPad sales dropped 14 percent compared with last year.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesabc

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