Bezos on Washington Post: I'm 'Not a Magician'

Amazon CEO gives first interview since acquiring the paper

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 3, 2013 9:12 AM CDT

(Newser) – Jeff Bezos gave his first interview since buying the Washington Post today, and he gave it to, well, the Washington Post. Here are some highlights:

  • "We've had three big ideas at Amazon," Bezos explains: "Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient. If you replace 'customer' with 'reader,' that approach, that point of view, can be successful at the Post, too." And he does mean reader. He later added, "I'm skeptical of any mission that has advertisers as its centerpiece."

  • Bezos says his two big contributions to the Post will be his "point of view" and a "runway" of financial support.
  • Bezos will tour the newsroom and meet with the Post's publisher and top managers tomorrow. But he indicated that he is unlikely to make any major announcements at that meeting.
  • He also repeatedly said he wouldn't deserve credit if things worked out. "If we figure out a new golden era at the Post . . . that will be due to the ingenuity and inventiveness and experimentation of the team at the Post. I’ll be there with advice from a distance."
  • Speaking of which, he's going to remain in Seattle; He referred to Amazon, which is headquartered there, as his "day job."
  • He stressed that he doesn't have any solutions in mind yet for what ails the newspaper industry. He says that Post CEO Donald Graham "was helpful in interviews when he said, 'Mr. Bezos is a businessman, not a magician.'"
  • That's not to say he's not confident. "I’m a genetic optimist. I’ve been told, 'Jeff, you’re fooling yourself; the problem is unsolvable.' But I don’t think so. It just takes a lot of time, patience, and experimentation."

In this Sept. 6, 2012, file photo, Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, speaks at the introduction of the new Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Paperwhite personal devices, in Santa Monica, Calif.   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)
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In my experience, the way invention, innovation and change happen is [through] team effort. There’s no lone genius who figures it all out and sends down the magic formula. - Jeff Bezos

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