He added, "I think media is a very simple business that people get too complicated."
Mr. Williams, who grew up in a beach town in Florida and played on the golf team at Washington and Lee University, will continue to lead the site – which will be renamed Axios Charlotte – after Axios takes control. He will also be the general manager of Axios' local news efforts.
Axios has excelled on topics important to centers of power – Washington, Wall Street, Silicon Valley – and its newsletters have attracted sponsorship dollars from companies hoping to sway lawmakers and decision makers. Facebook, for example, which is under attack from both sides of the political corridor, is a sponsor of “Axios A.M.”, its largest newsletter.
Axios expects sales of over $ 61 million this year – a 40 percent increase from last year – and remains profitable, said two people with a knowledge of finances. The company has 1.4 million email subscribers and has raised approximately $ 57 million to date. It was valued at over $ 200 million.
For local expansion, Axios plans to employ two people in each new city who compile a morning newsletter each day and hopes to recruit employees in all cities over time. Technology, machining, and other support are centralized at Axios headquarters to keep costs down.
The Charlotte Agenda gained in part by leveraging social platforms in ways that many traditional news companies have not yet adopted. When Katie Peralta was a reporter for The Charlotte Observer, she recalled that her friends and family often talked about what they had read on The Charlotte Agenda. She said she was annoyed when her younger sister mentioned that "this and that deal is going to close according to the agenda on Instagram," Ms. Peralta said.
"I saw this as competition because I was traveling on business," she said. "So whenever they scooped me, it made me angry."
Ms. Peralta made the awkward decision to leave Observer for the Charlotte Agenda last year. "The Observer is one of the most respected and established publications in the Carolinas," she said. The idea of leaving became easier to justify, however, as it saw cuts in the Observer's newsroom.