What the Quartz Acquisition Means for Media Companies and Media Lovers

The Quartz acquisition is more significant than it may first appear.

The news that Atlantic Media’s digital-first property is being sold to Tokyo-based media company Uzabase comes at a time when businesses and readers alike are wondering what sustainable journalism looks like in our brave new digital world. Quartz, with its positive business momentum, mobile-first mindset, and forward-looking reporting, might be the bellwether for coming change.

Quartz’s trajectory is remarkable in an industry where success stories can be hard to come by. Launched in 2012, the company has been profitable since 2016 and is on pace to grow revenue by 35 percent in 2018. From its beloved daily newsletters to Quartz Obsessions, which dive deep into topics such as how likely one is to be killed in a shark attack (1 in 3,748,067), Quartz content is thoughtfully designed for its readers. Its narrative counters the doom and gloom we’re so used to hearing about the state of journalism. The company’s investment in quality reporting, innovative products, and new channels, coupled with its financial success, send a positive message to would-be media entrepreneurs, investors, readers and donors.

At the same time, consolidation comes with caveats. The Quartz acquisition underscores the existential threat faced by media outlets today and raises questions about what comes next. Are we looking at a future dominated by a few global conglomerates? What options do independent news organizations have when it comes to sustained viability? What does this consolidation mean at a time when media’s role in our democracy is so vital and controversial? 

I have to believe that Kevin Delaney and Jay Lauf interrogated the Uzabase team thoroughly about their vision and intentions for the future of the outlet, and I’m encouraged that they will still be at the helm. We have yet to see whether this is a savvy move, and if history teaches us anything, it’s that things are always evolving.

For now, we’ll watch with cautious optimism that the Quartz-Uzabase team will continue to steer the ship on course. Those of us who have come to love Quartz’s smart coverage (not to mention its chat app) will take it more personally than others. Either way, the media ecosystem will benefit from seeing more Quartz in the future — and from observing what form that takes.