Amazon gave 60 Minutes the rare opportunity to interview CEO Jeff Bezos last night.
Correspondent Charlie Rose asked Bezos the question everyone in the newspaper industry wants to ask him: Why did Bezos buy the Washington Post for $US250 million?
Bezos’s answer: At first he had no idea why he should buy it, but eventually, he got talked into it by the Post’s previous owner.
You can tell the 60 Minutes people thought Bezos’s answer wasn’t very interesting because it didn’t make the air last night. You can only find it online.
But actually, it’s fascinating and says a lot about him:
If you’re a fan of Bezos, it reveals the flexibility of his imagination, his willingness to not have a plan, and his trusting nature. (He likes Don Graham. Don Graham says he should buy the Post. So he buys the Post.)
If you’re a sceptic of Bezos, it reveals sloppiness.
Above all else, the answer also illustrates Bezos’s immense wealth.
He’s worth tens of billions of dollars. The $US250 million it cost him to buy the Post is, for him, a tiny amount of money. It’s such a small amount of money that he agreed to spend it without really knowing why it was a good idea.
Bezos’s answer in full:
“I didn’t seek to buy the Washington Post. I’ve known (former owner) Don Graham for many years. Earlier this year, Don, through an intermediary, approached me and said, ‘Would you be interested in buying the Washington Post?’ I was very surprised. My first question was: Why would I even be a logical buyer? I don’t know anything about the news business. I said, you know, I don’t understand why I would be good at this. Don thought that because the newspaper business is being so disrupted by the Internet that somebody who had a lot of Internet knowledge and technology knowledge could actually be very helpful. I eventually came to believe that, after having multiple conversations with Don.”
Here’s the clip:
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.