Last week, news site Quartz joined the ranks of publishers who have put up a metered paywall to generate revenue. Readers can access a limited number of articles for free, and Quartz email newsletters and apps will remain free. However, full access to Quartz content will now require a membership, available for $100 a year or $15 a month, following a seven-day free trial. Nieman Lab reports that the membership program actually began about six months ago, but the paywall is new.
In a world often filled with noise over news, we believe our mission is more important than ever. Today we are asking those of you who value this mission help us continue to invest in what youve come to love about Quartz. And so today we are making unlimited access to all original reporting by Quartzs journalists around the world exclusive to members, said publisher and CEO Jay Lauf in a May 7 letter to readers.
We believe quality journalism is more essential than ever, and that serving more deeply the people like you who are shaping our future is more important than ever, Lauf added.
A Quartz Membership gives members full access to all existing Quartz content as well as to exclusive features and experiences including:
- In-depth reports and field guides on a range of topics including tech IPOs
- Exclusive video interviews with business leaders
- Events with industry leaders and fellow members
- Weekly conference calls with Quartz editors and journalists
According to Nieman Lab, the number of free articles a reader can access before hitting the paywall is variable. It will depend on a readers likelihood of converting to membership.
Quartz was founded by Atlantic Media in 2012. Last year, Atlantic Media sold Quartz to Uzabase, a Japanese business intelligence and media company, in a deal valued between $75 million and $110 million, depending on Quartzs performance in 2018. Part of the deal included Quartz taking over responsibility for NewsPicks, a subscription business news platform and one of Uzabases two core businesses. At the time of the acquisition, Uzabase said Quartz would keep its name, brand, New York City headquarters and a handful of offices around the world.
According to a July 7, 2018 news release, the idea was for Uzabase to combine the two companies to create a larger, more robust global business news brand that combines Quartzs voice, editorial, advertising and product expertise, and international reach with Uzabases deep expertise in data and niche paid content.
Another goal of the partnership was to accelerate NewsPicks expansion into English-speaking U.S. and European markets, while capitalizing on Quartzs projected 2018 revenue growth of 25% to 35%.
Five years ago, when I was originally thinking about launching a digital media business, I discovered Quartz for the first time. I thought that they were truly the first new media company to successfully combine quality journalism with mobile technology, and they played a big role in inspiring me to launch NewsPicks, said NewsPick founder and CEO Yusuke Umeda. I am very excited to enter the next chapter of NewsPickss growth with a company and team that I respect so much.
Lauf also commented on the deal.
The teams at NewsPicks and Quartz share a spirit of entrepreneurship and belief in the importance of high-integrity journalism and quality advertising. There’s a striking overlap in the two companies’ official values, which include genuinely putting users first, having a global approach, and being bold and creative, said Lauf.
At the time of the acquisition, Quartzs staff totaled 215, including journalists from around the world, speaking more than 40 languages. In July 2018, it was estimated that Quartz had an average of 20 million people access Quarter each month online, through their app, via email newsletter or video.
Given Quartzs success and its reputation as a trustworthy media brand, taking the company to the next level makes sense. This is particularly true in light of the acquisition; Uzabase has its own goals and Quartz will have to fulfill those goals as well as its journalistic ones. With so many publishers going to a metered model, this shouldnt come as a surprise. Quartz has tested a metered paywall, created a well-defined tier of exclusive members-only content and deserves to be paid for the quality of its work. Quartz might lose some readers – as will always occur when paywalls go up – but this could be a good move for Quartz long-term.