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What the Quartz Sale Means for the Future of Media

Media Company Launch Party For QuartzMedia Company Launch Party For Quartz
Atmosphere at the Media Company Launch Party For Quartz on October 25, 2012 in New York City. Photograph by Craig Barritt — Getty Images

Media site Quartz is being acquired by Uzabase, a publicly listed Japanese media company looking to increase its global reach.

Uzabase, which was founded by two former UBS investment bankers and a tech consultant, will pay between $75 million and $110 million in cash and stock, depending on Quartz’s financial performance for the remainder of 2018. The deal is expected to close in the next 30 days.

Last year, Quartz booked $28 million in revenue and is on pace to increase revenue by as much as 35% in 2018, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Japanese company is “turning to Quartz to drive its expansion outside of Asia, with a particular eye on subscription offerings.”

As part of the deal, Quartz will assume responsibility for the English-language version of NewsPicks. (Uzabase operates NewsPicks USA, a business news app that provides users with a personalized stream of content in English.)

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This acquisition is particularly interesting for the media industry at large because:

• One goal of the Uzabase deal is to help Quartz develop paid products for its audience, with a particular focus on digital subscriptions. In other words, it sounds like Quartz, too, will follow in the footsteps of its media counterparts and be the latest to launch a paywall product.

The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Business Insider have all invested in digital-subscription or premium-content models. Those models now make up substantial portions of the news organizations’ revenue, and it would be worth seeing whether others, like Quartz, follow suit.

• The digital subscription model will create new incentives in the media industry. It will de-prioritize the competition for eyeballs (ie: pageview count) and begin courting readers for their loyalty, engagement, (and dollars) instead.