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The Time That Jeff Bezos Had Henry Blodget Explain the Web to the Washington Post

The Amazon CEO owns a newspaper, and a piece of a news site. Synergy!

DLD Conference via YouTube
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

George Packer has a very nice profile of Jeff Bezos in the New Yorker today. It’s in front of the paywall, so you ought to read it, and if you don’t want to take my word for it, trust Bezos expert Brad Stone.

And while Packer spends most of this time talking about what Bezos and Amazon mean for the business and culture of books, he also talks about Bezos’s purchase of the Washington Post, and what that means for the paper.

It turns out that one result of Bezos’s purchase is that Business Insider’s Henry Blodget is now providing advice to the paper’s senior managers.

Packer reports that last month, at a secret meeting at the Post’s headquarters, Bezos talked about the paper’s tablet design. And he also brought Blodget down from New York to talk “about the challenges of publishing news on the Internet.”

The Post, via a PR rep, declined to comment on the meeting. I asked Blodget about it this morning but haven’t heard back. (I have a hunch he will have something to say eventually, and will be happy to add here.)

But it sure makes sense: Bezos and Blodget are big admirers of each other, and Bezos, who put money into Blodget’s company last year, is investing more this year “because he is nuts for that site,” as Re/code reported last month.*

And sure enough, Blodget’s Twitter account includes a mini-travelogue of a visit to Washington last month, complete with observations about trains and streets:

What did Blodget say to the Post’s top editors and executives? Here we have to guess. But we can make educated guesses, because Blodget talks frequently, and at length, about the challenges of publishing news on the Internet.

Last year, for instance, he announced that despite the struggles of many conventional news outlets, we are in a “golden age of journalism.” (Sometimes!) Earlier this year, he repeated that idea for an audience at the DLD conference, and then went on to explain why Business Insider is succeeding at “digital storytelling.”

You can see that presentation for yourself, both in slide form and in the beginning of this video. Blodget’s a very entertaining speaker, so if you have 10 minutes, take the time to watch. One heads up for the Post staff: Blodget says one reason Business Insider has succeeded is because it hasn’t been “distracted by having to save a newspaper.”

* I have a very small stake in Business Insider, so I hope it does well.

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