In 1964, legendary investment guru Warren Buffett seized a majority ownership of his investment company Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A). He soon turned it into a burgeoning multinational conglomerate that invested across multiple industries, including the publishing sector. As part of this initiative, the firm acquired a substantial stake in the Washington Post Company, which owns the Washington Post, and many other major newspapers.
In 2013, when the Post went up for sale, Buffett indirectly held the largest stake in the newspaper, prompting many pundits to speculate that he might leverage this opportunity to purchase the periodical outright. This expectation was further fueled by Buffett’s meaningful long-term friendship with Washington Post Company Chief Executive Officer Katharine Graham.
Buffett ultimately passed up on the deal, and Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon (AMZN), eventually acquired the paper in his stead. After the deal was finalized, Buffett explained that he declined to buy the newspaper to avoid burdening his children and future Berkshire Hathaway board members with an outlet that struggled to remain relevant and solvent in the modern digital age, where many individuals consumed their news over computers and mobile devices. Without a clear-cut plan to rejuvenate the paper, it simply seemed like a poor investment. Due to these factors, rather than giving into sentimentality and buying the paper he once distributed door-to-door as a young paperboy, Buffett opted to let it fall into the hands of another investor.