Uzabase sells Quartz to the site's CEO and staff

Anthony Ha
·2 min read
Yusuke Umeda, co-chief executive officer of Uzabase Inc., speaks during an interview in Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. Umeda, the 37-year-old co-founder of Uzabase, is considering moving his firms headquarters to the U.S. just months after agreeing to pay as much as $110 million for New York-based news publication Quartz. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Yusuke Umeda, co-chief executive officer of Uzabase Inc., speaks during an interview in Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. Umeda, the 37-year-old co-founder of Uzabase, is considering moving his firms headquarters to the U.S. just months after agreeing to pay as much as $110 million for New York-based news publication Quartz. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Quartz is going private, with co-founder and CEO Zach Seward buying the business news site from its current owner Uzabase.

In his post announcing the deal, Seward described the move as a management buyout that will also see Editor in Chief Katherine Bell and the rest of the Quartz staff taking equity in the new company.

"Most of the time, I hope, Quartz’s finances and our corporate parentage are irrelevant, as long as we’re doing our job well," he wrote. "But this is an important moment in the life of our company, and we want to share it with all of you, whose readership and enthusiasm for Quartz have carried us successfully through the past eight years."

Seward suggested that while Uzabase's ownership was "helpful," the company is "better off right now as a startup, freer to chart our own path." And as a startup, it's looking to raise outside funding.

The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news that Uzabase wanted to sell the property, also reported that Uzabase CEO Yusuke Umeda (pictured above) has made a personal loan to support the site.

Quartz was founded in 2012 by Atlantic Media, then acquired by Uzabase (a Japanese financial data and media company) for $86 million in 2018.

The company has struggled to make the business side work in recent years, reporting a loss of $18.4 million on revenue of $26.4 million in 2019, and cutting about 80 staff positions earlier this year.

In an assessment of the site's troubles published in June, Digiday's Steven Perlberg noted Quartz has been restructuring around its subscription business, but he suggested that it's been caught in digital media's "mushy middle": "Not quite niche enough to be essential to a small group of readers, but not quite big enough to compete at scale."