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Jeff Bezos' journey to newspaper magnate: Q&A with author Brad Stone

August 06, 2013|By Hector Tobar

That’s a good question. I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it in quite that way. In most of his other investments, it really has been because he sees financial opportunities for innovation. He’s passionate about entrepreneurs. When he met Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998, he was enamored of their stubbornness and the fact that they didn’t want to put advertisements on the front page of Google. And he bet on them. Often times he makes decisions because he believes in the entrepreneurs. If you saw his letter on Washington Post.com, he said he’s known Don Graham for a decade and that there’s no finer man. So clearly they have a relationship as well. So he might be making an investment on Don Graham and his management team and figuring that with a little extra bit of runway he can turn around the newspaper.

So were you surprised by the announcement?

I’ve been covering Amazon for at least 14 years. I was very surprised. Jeff has basically shown an interest in investing in new business models and new technologies.  Where he has invested in the media it’s been in properties like Business Insider, the blog. Or Next Door, which is a local social network, where you’re getting a fundamentally different relationship between writer and reader. And you’re using technology to find readers in new ways.

These companies have none of the old, associated costs of the older newspapers, like the pension obligations. Helping to spark a renaissance in a 136-year-old newspaper is not something I thought he would be doing.

hector.tobar@latimes.com

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