The Washington Post – Sale of a Family Business Newspaper

The recent announcement that the Washington Post newspaper was being sold to Jeff Bezos from, brought back memories of a speaker presentation that Alan Spoon, former president of The Washington Post gave at one of our Center’s meetings. Several years ago we had the opportunity to have Alan Spoon, meet with our Center members at the Northeastern University Center for Family Business, where he discussed the close working relationship he had with the Graham family. Some of the issues he discussed included; non-family executives, educating investors, creation of value and the benefits of longer term vision vs. short-term profits.

Following is a summary of Alan Spoon’s remarks when he was president of the Washington Post.

The Story of The Washington Post: Perspectives from the President

For ten years, Alan Spoon was President of The Washington Post, serving with the famed mother-son team of Katherine and Donald Graham. At this breakfast meeting, Center members learned how Alan managed his role as a non-family member leader of this exceedingly high profile family owned and managed enterprise. More…

The Risks and Rewards of Non-Family CEOs

The Risks and Rewards of Non-Family CEOsNortheastern University

Family Business Quarterly

The person at the top of the organization chart at many family businesses these days may not have the same last name as the business, as more and more companies are turning to non-family CEOs.

Dr. Bonnie Brown, the president of Dallas-based Transition Dynamics, addressed the good, bad, and–yes, sometimes–the ugly of going outside the family for top managers during a recent Half-Day forum on “The Non-Family CEO: Rewards and Risks of Non-Family Key Managers.”

“I think we’re going to see non-family CEOs used more and more over time,” said Brown, who regularly consults to family businesses.”There are a lot of good reasons to do so, such as a gap in the leadership skills between generations.”

Brown provided the scenario of a company whose CEO is ready to retire, but the family member who is the chosen successor is simply not ready to take over.Rather than rush the successor or have the CEO hang on longer than desired,