Quartz, the Business News Site, Drops Its Paywall

Quartz, the digital business publication, is scrapping its paywall.

The company announced the change on Thursday in an unusual reversal of the media business model that has taken hold in recent years as advertising has wavered: requiring readers to pay for digital access.

“Quartz’s mission is to make business better, and our journalism is focused on that,” Zach Seward, the chief executive, said. He added, “The more we think about the best way to accomplish that mission, it seems clear to us that it is by making that journalism, all of those resources, as widely available to as many people as we can.”

Frequent readers will have to register their email address, but the website will be free, the company said in a news release. Quartz will continue to solicit money from readers through its membership program, which includes exclusive email newsletters.

Two years ago, as the pandemic took hold in the United States, Quartz laid off 80 employees, or nearly half its staff, as its advertising revenue took a nosedive amid the broader economic fallout. The company emphasized the importance of its paid subscriptions in a May 2020 note to staff, with Mr. Seward writing that Quartz had 17,680 subscribers.

Quartz now has 25,000 paying members, he said in an interview this week. (Memberships cost $14.99 a month or $99.99 a year.) He added that advertising still made up most of the company’s revenue, allowing it to turn off the paywall, which had been in place since 2019.

Mr. Seward co-founded Quartz in 2012 as a digital news product under Atlantic Media. It was sold to the Japanese firm Uzabase in 2018, and in 2020 Mr. Seward bought it back to operate it as a private company.

Quartz now has 50 journalists in its newsroom, down from more than 100 several years ago. Mr. Seward said the company was in hiring mode.

“We expect to see traffic growth from this move, and I would hope that our whole strategy comes together in ways that allow us to keep on growing and hiring from there,” he said.