Five Questions with Jay Lauf

Jay Lauf

Co-CEO, Quartz

“I define brand purpose as answering the question: what is the benefit your brand is providing in the world?”

Jay Lauf is the co-CEO of Quartz. In his role, he oversees Quartz’s business operations.

Lauf assumed the role of publisher at Quartz when the digital, global business news publication launched in September 2012. Under Lauf, Quartz’s innovative advertising has garnered awards and honors from Digiday, Adweek (2012), the Headliner Awards, Deadline Club and more.

The brand now reaches more than 25 million people globally every month and has increased nearly tenfold in annual revenue since 2013. Prior to his role at Quartz, Lauf led The Atlantic’s revitalization as its publisher. Under his direction, the publication attained its first profit in decades and transitioned The Atlantic to a “digital-first” brand earning the label from Ad Age: “an ultra-modern, multi-platform juggernaut.”


How do you define brand purpose?

I define brand purpose as answering the question: what is the benefit your brand is providing in the world? Simply making money or effectively cranking out a widget isn’t enough to retain and attract talent or to excite customers. Purpose is about what problem you are solving or the way you would like to see the world change as a result of what your brand does.


How can purpose shape a company's future?

Having a North Star helps you make better long-term decisions in the confusion of the day-to-day battles to succeed in business. For example, at Quartz, we view our purpose as helping a new generation of business leaders see around corners in the hope they will drive positive progress. Referencing that purpose helps us make clearer decisions about what to launch, what not to do, and who to hire.


What should brands consider when implementing purpose driven work?

Inauthentic, trope-laden purpose statements aren’t actually effective. Brands should consider whether they earnestly mean what they say when they define their purpose.


What values are unique to your company?

Spirit of generosity and a more global world. We believe that a team comprised of people of good character can do great things together. We believe the world is inexorably on a path to becoming smaller and more interconnected so we embrace and work to help people harness that.


In three words, describe your leadership philosophy?

Lead by example.


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