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Alumni Excellence Awards: EnTERPreneuer Award Winner Roy Schwartz '98

Alumni Excellence Awards: EnTERPreneuer Award Winner Roy Schwartz '98

Photo of EnTerprenuer Award Nominee Roy Schwartz '98

By Andrew Faught

When Roy Schwartz ’98, MBA ’01 co-founded the online news website Axios in 2016, he was guided by a singular mission: articles would be 250 to 500 words, and bullet points would help busy readers digest the day’s headlines in a matter of minutes.

Schwartz even helped fashion a term for the approach: smart brevity.

“Everyone is overwhelmed with so much information,” he says. “The way in which journalism was written had to be fundamentally changed, and that’s where we created smart brevity.”

In September, Schwartz released a book, with Axios co-founders Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen, “Smart Brevity: The Power of Saying More With Less.” The New York Times says the work offers “ways to communicate in a short-attention-span world.”

Axios was responding, and continues to respond, to the daily information deluge facing most Americans.

“You’ve got content coming at you from text messages, emails, and apps on your phone,” Schwartz says. “There’s real news and there’s fake news. Everyone is sort of overwhelmed by all of this. There were two things that were needed: a trusted, nonpartisan news source, and a format that was meant for your phone.”

In 2008, Schwartz became chief revenue officer at Politico, a political journalism newspaper company. He left Politico to co-found Axios eight years later, at a time when daily newspapers were closing or laying off employees amid dwindling readership and a falloff in advertising revenues.

Schwartz’s entrepreneurial ambitions started at Maryland where, as a freshman, he installed video vending machines – at a time when Blockbuster and Hollywood Video were industry leaders – at 10 Virginia apartment buildings.

While Axios’ other founders come from a journalism background, Schwartz brought a businessman’s acumen to the enterprise. “Because I didn’t come from media, I had a very open mind in terms of how to drive revenue,” he says.

The founders point to some telling statistics. Typical newspaper articles are 1,000 words, Schwartz says. Eighty percent of readers, he adds, only take in the first 250 words.

“So we took on this whole thing and decided to flip it on its head,” Schwartz says. “Now everyone’s copying it. You can see the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal all have bullet points at the top of their stories, and that’s because of us. We were the first to reformat your typical article.”

In recognition of Schwartz’s efforts, the UMD Alumni Association recently named him a recipient of the EnTERPreneur Award.


Publication of this article does not imply an endorsement by the Alumni Association. The Alumni Blog connects you with the latest at UMD. Check out articles on advancing your personal and professional goals, elevating your UMD pride, and celebrating Terp traditions, legacies and accomplishments. For even more content, follow the Alumni Association on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.


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