Henry Blodget, CEO of Insider Inc., told CNBC on Wednesday that Jeff Bezos provided invaluable advice when the Amazon founder invested in his burgeoning media company.
Bezos, who will step down as CEO of Amazon later that year, led a $ 5 million investment round in Blodget’s company in 2013. It was about six years old then and known as Business Insider. In an interview on Squawk Box, Blodget recalled a discussion with Bezos about how to divide his time between management and editing.
“I had been writing all along. I was an editor and one of the things I asked him right after his investment was, ‘Look, should I keep writing and doing TV and stuff or should I stay CEO? Because that Company has grown big enough that I really have to do one thing or another, “said Blodget.
Bezos replied that he really only had one inquiry as an investor, Blodget said. “He said, ‘I will ask you to remain CEO.’” On Wednesday, Blodget, a former Wall Street analyst, also described how he was pushing Bezos to the bottom. “”[Bezos] said, “Because you don’t even notice it, but every day you make dozens of small course corrections. They are all inventing a new model for journalism. You have an instinct as to where this is going. ‘”
According to Blodget, Bezos added, “When you bring in someone who has experience, you want to give them plenty of space to make their own decisions. These will take place over a long time and will change things. ‘He said, “I’m investing because I want you to make these course corrections.”
Insider Inc. was sold to German publisher Axel Springer in 2015 for a value of almost 450 million US dollars. Bezos sold his stake in the company in late 2016, Insider Inc. spokesman Mario Ruiz told CNBC. Blodget remains CEO, but left the role of editor-in-chief in 2017.
Blodget recalled the conversation the day after Amazon announced that Bezos would move from CEO to Executive Chairman later that year. Andy Jassy will take the reins from Bezos, who founded the e-commerce titan more than 25 years ago, turning him into a nearly $ 2 trillion global giant. Jassy, a longtime lieutenant from Bezos, currently heads Amazon’s highly profitable cloud computing business.
The insider chief said he has confidence in Jassy and thinks Amazon will “be in good shape for a while”. It will likely be three to five years before outsiders can decide whether the CEO change will be “a big deal.” “
“With companies this size, they’re super tankers. They have tremendous momentum,” said Blodget. “You can change several of the people at the top and you won’t see the outside impact for a long time as the company will continue to do what it was raised to do.”
Prior to his tenure as head of media, Blodget reported on Amazon as a closely watched Wall Street internet analyst during the dot-com boom. In December 1998, while working for brokerage firm CIBC Oppenheimer, he announced a remarkable price hike on Amazon, and stocks rose 19% in the following session.
Blodget continued to work for Merrill Lynch, but his research was under scrutiny. He was finally banned from the securities industry in 2003 after an investigation into what the Securities and Exchange Commission called “the undue influence of investment banking interests on brokerage research analysts”. In a multi-million dollar settlement at the time, Blodget was denied or failed to admit the allegations made by the SEC.