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May 15, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:18am

Quartz to close London office amid 80 job losses as ad sales slump by half

By Charlotte Tobitt

Business news website Quartz is closing its London office as it cuts 80 jobs to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus crisis, which it has described as “the greatest challenge we have faced as a company”.

The London office will close in the next few months, as will those in San Francisco, Hong Kong and Washington DC. This will leave it with a “significant presence” in New York, Los Angeles, New Delhi and Nairobi.

It is unclear exactly how many UK-based employees are losing their jobs, but Quartz will continue to employ some people in London. The job cuts will result in a 40 per cent reduction in Quartz’s global workforce.

A list of Quartz editorial staff on its website appears to show 11 based in London and 78 worldwide. Press Gazette understands there are just over 20 staff based at the London office in total.

Quartz chief executive Zach Seward, whose announcement was published in full by Talking Biz News, told staff: “I should emphasise that today’s changes are about sustaining Quartz for years into the future, not just surviving the current crisis.

“If we are to be a healthy company, we can’t just make periodic cuts and try to scrape by. It was important to me that we take just one, decisive action that could confidently carry us into a sustainable future.

“Unfortunately, that meant some alternatives to layoffs, such as furloughs or across-the-board pay cuts, were not an option. They would not have saved enough money or corrected our business model for the long run.”

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The job losses affect every team at the company but “not evenly”, Seward said, as the priority is to protect the subscription business and its core coverage of business, economics and finance.

Quartz launched a premium content model in 2018, shortly after it was bought by Japanese media company Uzabase, putting access to its global economy coverage behind a metered paywall.

Uzabase said yesterday that Quartz’s advertising-focused business had seen a 54 per cent drop in sales year-on-year.

The company said it had taken the decision to “eliminate any potential future risks” by reorganising Quartz’s business with a “shift towards a leaner structure”. Advertising staff have been cut by 40%, it said.

Quartz’s paid subscription business continue to grow steadily, Uzabase said, adding that it “intends to maintain the focus on expanding it further”.

Quartz launched in the US in 2012 – one year after Buzzfeed which shuttered its dedicated news operations in the UK and Australia this week.

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