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Atlantic Media sells Quartz to Japanese media company

”After selling the majority of The Atlantic to Emerson Collective, I had thought it would be a few years before we launched the search for a Quartz buyer.  In fact, all of this — my partnership with Emerson on The Atlantic and the sale of Quartz — is coming years faster than I had imagined,” David Bradley said. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

Atlantic Media announced Monday that it is selling its Quartz business news platform to Uzabase, a publicly held Japanese business intelligence and media company worth nearly $1 billion.

The deal, expected to close within 30 days, will be worth between $75 million and $110 million, depending on Quartz’s financial performance for the rest of the calendar year, according to the announcement.

The sale of Quartz is the latest divestiture by Atlantic Media chairman and owner David Bradley. Bradley announced a year ago that he had sold a majority stake in the Atlantic magazine to Emerson Collective, which is controlled by Laurene Powell Jobs.

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Bradley recounted in the memo that a family Christmas trip to Beirut a few years ago was formative in helping him decide to unload his media empire.

“Everyone worked their way to the view that, by the time I am 70, we will have divested our media properties,” Bradley, 65, said in the memo. “That would be, for me, 25 years in and around journalism.”

He started in 2017, with the sale of a majority stake of the Atlantic. Bradley also last year sold his Watergate headquarters for $135 million to Washington REIT. And now Quartz.

“I think it’s pretty simple,” said John Fox Sullivan, who was a top executive to Bradley as the longtime president of National Journal. He left day-to-day operations at the publication in 2010. “David has had great success. His children aren’t interested in taking it on, and so he is looking to phase out. He appears to be divesting the properties to really good buyers. It’s one thing to want to sell something. It’s another thing that you want to get a lot of money for it. I am sure he vetted the new owners of Quartz to make sure they have certain values in how they approach journalism and people.

Bradley still owns National Journal and Government Executive, which offer insights and best practices to nearly 2 million federal, state and local government influencers. He has reinvented National Journal into an assortment of unglamorous properties that help clients build road maps to Washington power players, analyze executive orders and legislation, and provides companies with inside dope on their reputation with Washington influencers.

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“After selling the majority of The Atlantic to Emerson Collective, I had thought it would be a few years before we launched the search for a Quartz buyer,” Bradley said in his memo to the Quartz staff Monday. He said the sale of the Atlantic magazine and Quartz “is coming years faster than I had imagined.”

Bradley and his wife, Katherine, are also investors in Axios, the news company started by Washington journalists Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei.

Bradley said Tokyo-based Uzabase approached Quartz editor in chief Kevin J. Delaney last fall about a content partnership, then the conversation developed into one about a purchase.

As part of the deal, Quartz will assume responsibility for the English version of NewsPicks, a subscription business news service and a core business of Uzabase.

Uzabase said it plans to marry Quartz’s editorial and advertising products with Uzabase’s data and paid content to “create a larger, more robust global business brand.”

Uzabase CEO Yusuke Umeda, 37, who lives in New York City, said he has been watching Quartz for five years and that its success in combining “quality journalism with mobile technology” inspired him to launch NewsPicks.

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“I founded Uzabase in 2008 after a career in management consulting and finance, with the vision of building a truly unique global business intelligence and media company,” Umeda said in a blog. “Before NewsPicks, the company had only one product, SPEEDA, a corporate and market information platform. This B2B business grew swiftly and after several years, I decided to build a consumer facing media product (NewsPicks). At that time, Quartz was a great inspiration for me.”

Quartz executives said in a memo that the two companies have a lot in common.

“It was quickly obvious that we had complementary audiences and business models, and that we shared similar ambitions and values,” Delaney and publisher Jay Lauf said in a memo to Quartz staff. “After a few meetings with us about the content partnership, Yusuke approached David Bradley about combining Quartz and Uzabase. The discussions moved forward from there.”

Quartz is an edgy online media outlet specializing in business news. Bradley founded the company in 2012, growing the staff to 215, including 100 journalists reporting worldwide.

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The company said more than 20 million people access its digital products each month, including its website. Half of its audience is from outside the United States.

Quartz, which recently won its first Gerald Loeb Award for business journalism, will continue to operate under its brand and from its New York City headquarters, according to the announcement. No layoffs are planned.

Brian Kelly, editor and chief content officer at U.S. News & World Report, said the acquisition made sense to him.

“My sense of Quartz was it never really caught on in a big way,” Kelly said. “What’s that Churchill quote — ‘it was a pudding without a theme’? It was quality work. Individual stories were very good. But it didn’t seem essential.”

“This is probably a good move, because it gives them a bigger platform,” he added. “You can’t be a niche platform. This company seems to have a very successful, focused product for a big audience.”