How an Inexperienced Widow Led the Washington Post to Success

  • Choosing to be extremely disciplined in acquisitions; her acquisitions had to return a minimum of 11% over a 10-year period without leverage.
  • Acquiring businesses outside of the newspaper industry. In the 1980s, when competitors were snapping up other newspapers, Graham did not — considering the price of the assets in the industry inflated. Instead, the Post chose to buy businesses in test prep and cable tv, which helped to balance the newspaper business when it started declining due to the Internet.
  • Hiring a great COO, Dick Simmons — hiring decisions are often looked over, but identifying the right talent is a valuable skill.
  • Promoting a fantastic Editor-in-Cheif. Choosing Ben Bradlee (a virtual newcomer then, now one of the most renowned journalists in the US) was a bold choice, but Graham felt that the Post needed someone with a better understanding of the times.
  • Choosing to trust her staff about Watergate; which is why The Post became the only publication to cover it.
  • Repurchasing 40% of the Post shares when the share price was low due to a worker’s strike.
  • Minimizing capital expenditures & resisting upgrading facilities. Instead, she chose to wait for proof that the new technologies were worth going into, and for costs to come down.




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Katerina Yip

Katerina Yip

Venture builder at fail ventures.

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