Mining Quartz: What Uzabase Is Up To Post-Acquisition

Tech and publishing are coming together. Uzabase completed its acquisition of Quartz on July 31 and will pay between $75 million and $110 million, depending on this year’s performance.

But what does it mean for a Bloomberg-like intelligence platform to join forces with a global business publisher?

The two companies concede that they’re still figuring that out.

Both, however, aim to serve the same audience – business professionals on the verge – albeit through different means. By acquiring Quartz, Uzabase can theoretically support that audience more completely.

“The whole company is writ large, designed to serve this next generation of business leadership,” said Jay Lauf, who went from co-president to co-CEO of Quartz following the acquisition.

Uzabase’s product portfolio started off with SPEEDA, a business intelligence platform created in 2009. Unlike a Bloomberg or Reuters terminal, SPEEDA supplies business professionals across the board with easier-to-consume information, rather than data for the subset of businesspeople focusing on the financial markets.

Fifty percent of SPEEDA’s customer base comprises professional firms in consulting, accounting, investment banking or private equity. The other 50% of customers are business corporations, said Tomoyuki Ota, formerly the executive officer and head of business development for Uzabase – and now Quartz’s new CFO.

“We want to be an infrastructure for business intelligence for the entire market,” Ota said. “There is no true, easy-to-use platform for business information. SPEEDA is a one-stop database for information about companies and industry.”


Take NewsPicks, for example, an offshoot of Uzabase’s BI platform business launched in 2013. For $15 or $50 per month (the more expensive version includes access to events), NewsPicks offers curated selection of news information.

Quartz will help expand the service to English-language markets in the US and Europe.

In Q1 of 2018, Uzabase counted 64,336 paid subscribers for NewsPicks, which brought in revenue of around $5.5 million (611 million yen) for the quarter.

But subscriptions aren’t the only revenue stream: Both NewsPicks and Quartz run native advertising with a focus on high-impact, content-driven ads. Serving those advertisers will continue to be core to Quartz’s mission.

Since NewsPicks already curates news, the logical first step in working more closely with Quartz is for the latter’s content to start appearing within NewsPicks.

Down the line, further product experimentation is on the road map.

Quartz is no stranger to product innovation. It’s created a suite of products that bring its content closer to readers and encourage a direct relationship, including its Daily Brief email and its app.

Post-acquisition, the team is working on ways to offer these kinds of utilities to grow readership and help advertisers reach those readers, Lauf said. Helping NewsPicks gain traction among English speakers is one tactic.

By contrast, Uzabase’s core BI service SPEEDA isn’t focused on English-language markets at the moment, but there’s an opportunity to expand from Japan, which represents 90% of current revenue, into the rest of Asia.

Just as content appears in a Bloomberg Terminal, SPEEDA could help its users establish a daily habit with NewsPicks or Quartz.

“It has the potential to be a new distribution platform absolutely,” Lauf said, noting that NewsPicks is more than just a feed. It creates a community of readers.

Quartz and Uzabase may still be figuring out exactly how to collaborate together, but they’re grounding ideas in their shared goal of serving readers and users.

“The editorial mission of Quartz is to help global business professionals see around corners; we’re designed to provide analysis on topics like technology and finance and their impact on the global economy,” Lauf said. “In that sense, we are very complementary.”

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