OLD Media Moves

Memo from Quartz leaders to staff on its sale

July 2, 2018

Posted by Chris Roush

The following memo is from Quartz co-presidents Kevin Delaney and Jay Lauf to its staff:

Hello Quartz—

We created Quartz for people excited by change, and have focused our journalism on the future of industries and economies. Today we’re unveiling some change for Quartz itself, with a sharper vision of our future and a bet on where media is headed. We’re very excited about it, and want to share with you why. We think it will give you confidence that this new chapter for Quartz will be one of further invention and expansion, and increase our ability to produce quality journalism and products for a global business readership.

The headline news is that Quartz has reached an agreement to be acquired by Uzabase, a publicly listed Japanese media company with great success across Asia. Uzabase launched 10 years ago and now has two core businesses: NewsPicks, a business news app for consumers, and Speeda, a financial-data and business-intelligence service. Uzabase’s ambition echoes our own—to build the leading business news brand of our century—and now we are in this mission together.

As part of this deal, Quartz will take over responsibility for the English-language version of NewsPicks on behalf of Uzabase, while continuing our existing activities.

Uzabase is turning to Quartz to drive its expansion outside of Asia, with a particular eye on subscription offerings. Sparked by their co-CEO Yusuke Umeda, who is based in New York, we began discussions last winter about a content distribution partnership. Uzabase had admired Quartz from afar and cited our product and editorial approach as an inspiration. It was quickly obvious that we had complementary audiences and business models, and that we shared similar ambitions and values. After a few meetings with us about the content partnership, Yusuke approached David Bradley about combining Quartz and Uzabase. The discussions moved forward from there.

As we’ve gotten to know Yusuke, we’ve found him and his colleagues to be true entrepreneurs who meet David’s (and our) high bar for integrity. They also have an appreciation for what makes Quartz Quartz and want to move quickly and ambitiously from here. There is a striking overlap in the two companies’ official values, which include the importance of boldness and creativity, putting users first, being globally minded, and doing everything with a spirit of generosity.

We anticipate you’ll have questions about what this means and how this will work. There will be plenty of opportunity to ask and answer your questions later this morning in a meeting with David. We’ll send details shortly. In the meantime, here are some further things you might be wondering about:

What doesn’t change?

– The Quartz business will continue to operate without interruption. The Quartz name and brand will not change.

– Our readers can expect the same commitment to quality, independent, and globally minded journalism, product, and advertising—and will continue to benefit from our full suite of products.

– All staff are unaffected by this agreement. There are no layoffs planned as part of the acquisition, and your benefits will remain unchanged. We’ll be co-CEOs of Quartz, with continued responsibility for its operations and direction.

– We’ll remain in all of our offices, including our New York City headquarters.

– Atlantic Media will continue to work with us through a transition period of at least 12 months, so the members of the corporate team you work with today will be the same you work with tomorrow. We’ll eventually staff up on our own services in areas like legal, human resources, finance, and IT. David Bradley also will continue to work with us as a senior advisor and will be a shareholder in the company.

What does change?

– We’ll quickly be developing paid products for the loyal audience Quartz has accrued over the past six years, building on and learning from the success that NewsPicks has had with community and paid content. While high-quality advertising will continue to represent the lion’s share of Quartz’s revenue in the coming years, we expect that the biggest source of growth in Quartz’s next chapter will come from reader revenue.

– A senior Uzabase executive will join us as Quartz’s chief financial officer, based in New York, after the deal closes, which we expect to happen within 30 days.

This acquisition comes at a time of impressive momentum for Quartz. We’re on track to increase advertising revenue 25-35% over 2017, which will set yet another all-time record in revenue for our company. Our full-time workforce and global reach are at their greatest levels in our history, we’re preparing to launch our ambitious new video show on Facebook, have launched the commercial arm of the Bot Studio, are near the release of version 5 of qz.com, are building on our email newsletter success with the Quartz Obsession and new offerings, and have just won a prestigious Gerald Loeb Award for our journalism.

We’re proud of your achievements in all of these areas. Every day we’re appreciative of your talent and dedication as colleagues, which has made possible what we’ve done to date, and will take us where we aspire to go. We think the opportunity that this merger unlocks for Quartz will resonate for all of you, as it has for us.

At Quartz’s launch in 2012, Kevin’s letter to readers declared, “We view the creation of Quartz as just the beginning of an ongoing process,” and promised that “we intend to do some things differently than you might expect.”

We’re excited by where this process is taking us, and trust you, our readers, and our advertisers will embrace this change as well. In our first five years, Quartz has shaped our industry in so many ways. We intend to be no less ambitious in the years ahead.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts and questions today, and continuing to discuss as we move ahead.


Kevin and Jay

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