The Washington Post – Sale of a Family Business Newspaper

The recent announcement that the Washington Post newspaper was being sold to Jeff Bezos from Amazon.com, 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…

Value Added

Value Added

Dan Rabinovitch
University of Southern California

The valuation expert plays the role of the detective.He or she must delve through the complexities of a business’ performance; culture; key players and clients; and industry trends to arrive at a fair judgment of its worth.The IRS defines fair market value (FMV) as an amount the buyer is willing to spend and the seller willing to accept, neither under any compulsion to act and with equity to both.

This formula may shadow the very subjective “story” behind a business and its value. What is the mission of the company?What is the culture of the business?Who are the key players?For example, the opinion of a 5% stakeholder in a public company is not, by definition, weighty enough to dictate company decisions.On the other hand, if that same person holds 5% interest in a family business and she is the mother, no one is going to disregard her opinion. More…