Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos buys the Washington Post

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, has bought The Washington Post for $250 million, the newspaper said Monday in a stunning announcement.

Bezos will own the Post personally, and it will not be connected to Amazon.

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The deal ends the Graham family's four-generation ownership of one of the nation's most prominent newspapers.

The Washington Post Co., which will change its name, said it will continue to own Slate, TheRoot.com, Foreign Policy, Kaplan and other properties.

“I understand the critical role the Post plays in Washington, DC and our nation, and the Post’s values will not change,” Bezos said in a statement.  “Our duty to readers will continue to be the heart of the Post, and I am very optimistic about the future.”

Donald Graham, chairman and CEO of The Washington Post Co., said Bezos’s "proven technology and business genius, his long-term approach and his personal decency make him a uniquely good new owner for the Post.”

“I understand the critical role the Post plays in Washington, DC and our nation, and the Post’s values will not change,” Bezos said in a statement. “Our duty to readers will continue to be the heart of the Post, and I am very optimistic about the future.”  

Like many newspapers, The Post struggled to adapt its business model to digital technology. Its revenue plunged 44 percent over the past six years and print circulation dwindled, according to the newspaper. 

Following other major newspapers, The Post began charging for its online content in June.

Graham hired the investment firm Allen & Co. to secretly shop the paper to potential buyers, according to The Post. The representatives spoke with six candidates before the board settled on Bezos, 49, who founded Amazon 19 years ago in his home in Bellevue, Wash.

Amazon has upended the retail industry by offering virtually any product at a low price. Although the company has grown at a breakneck pace, it has rarely been profitable and lost $39 million last year.

The business has made Bezos one of the world's richest people. He started a company in 2000 to develop technologies for space travel and reportedly spent $42 million to develop a clock in a mountain that can last for 10,000 years.

In a letter to Post employees, Bezos said he won't be managing the newspaper day-to-day and will continue to live in Washington state.

But he acknowledged that the newspaper will have to change in the coming years.

"The Internet is transforming almost every element of the news business: shortening news cycles, eroding long-reliable revenue sources, and enabling new kinds of competition, some of which bear little or no news-gathering costs," he said.

— This story was updated at 5:41 p.m.