On Thursday, Jim Spanfeller, chief executive of G/O Media, announced that the company had just purchased business news publisher Quartz. Except he didn’t call it Quartz. Going by the subject heading in an announcement email viewed by Motherboard, Spanfeller was excited to now own Quarts.
“Quartz is one of the marquee business brands among digital native premium content destinations, ranked number one for readership among global executives between the ages of 25-45. With a goal of helping readers discover new industries, new markets, and new ways of doing business that are the most sustainable, innovative, and inclusive,” Spanfeller told G/O employees in the email, titled, simply, “Quarts News.”
“Quartz has been widely praised and won many of journalism’s highest honors since launching in 2012, most recently picking up two of SABEW’s Best in Business Awards earlier this month. Quartz’s commitment to quality and mission driven journalism truly embodies the values espoused in all of our brands,” he wrote.
Quartz was founded in 2012 by Atlantic Media. It was acquired by Uzabase in 2018 for $86 million. In 2020, the company went private. The terms of G/O Media’s acquisition were not disclosed.
These are all true of Quartz—but what of Quarts? Could it be a new pivot for the tech and business-focused outlet to now post exclusively about milk? Paint? Fresh berries from a farmer’s market? Garden-variety herbs? It’s all unclear.
Spanfeller took over at G/O Media after it was bought by private equity giant Great Hill Partners in 2019. As the man brought in by a private equity firm to run a newsroom, Spanfeller cares a great deal about all of his brands including Quarts.
Jokes aside, Spanfeller is a man so widely disliked that one of G/O Media’s most popular blog posts ever was “Jim Spanfeller Is a Herb.” That blog post was the result of Spanfeller’s mismanagement and a seemingly fundamental misunderstanding of how to run a newsroom as he grew increasingly involved in editorial decisions. In one memo, an editorial director picked by Spanfeller told members of Deadspin―the company’s sports blog―to “stick to sports” and sparked a revolt that culminated in the entire editorial staff quitting.
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