Meet the Register's new owner

kushner.jpgAaron Kushner's effort to buy the Boston Globe was met with lots of skepticism, largely because no one had ever heard of him. If he operates the Register the way he said he would have operated the Globe, look for an engaged, hands-on owner. (By the way, he never had serious talks with the NY Times Co., which owns the Globe.) From a 2011 profile in Boston magazine:

A self-described Boston "newbie," he lives in a $1.7 million house in Wellesley with his wife and three kids. After growing up in Georgia, he attended Stanford University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in economics and a master's degree in organizational analysis, and starred on the gymnastics team. His first break came during the Internet bubble, when in 1999 he sold a company he'd started --, which allowed people to change their addresses online -- to Imagitas, a business then based in Newton. It was that deal that eventually brought Kushner to the Boston area. A few years later, he and a business partner started looking around for other acquisitions, which led them to a greeting-card company in Wareham called Marian Heath. (Kushner's grandfather and great-grandfather had both been in the greeting-card game.) Kushner and his partner bought Marian Heath in 2002 with funding from the Walnut Group, a Cincinnati investment company, and Kushner became CEO.


To cut through the entrepreneur-speak, I call Chris Harte -- the former publisher of the Star Tribune and one of Kushner's investors. Unfortunately, Harte tells me that he had a similarly confused reaction when he first met Kushner. "I didn't even understand many of [the details] in the first 30 minutes," he tells me. "I thought, Hmm, I'm not sure I understand this yet, I'm very skeptical, but this guy is very specific about what he wants to do and he's got massive spreadsheets showing all his assumptions and I can read and test and talk to him more and find out whether or not he's got some answers. And I did, and I think he does." Harte, who has a long history in newspapers, seems taken with Kushner's youthful exuberance. "There's nobody that I'm aware of who's got as innovative a plan and as good an understanding of some possible solutions that I think will be seen later as among the foundations for most newspapers going forward."

No telling where this might lead, but I suspect many folks at the Register are relieved that the paper is not being sold to Douglas Manchester, the new and controversial owner of the San Diego Union-Tribune who has made no secret of using the paper for his political and social agendas. Manchester is anti-big government, anti-tax and anti-gay marriage. (NYT columnist David Carr looks at the new Union-Tribune.)

Earlier: OC Register sold to private investment group

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
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