Ozy Media shuts down after days of scandal, reports of lies, and misconduct

Carlos Watson, founder of the American online magazine OZY.com, speaks in Berlin, Germany, on October 6, 2014.

Britta Pedersen | alliance of images | fake images

Ozy Media’s board announced Friday that the company will shut down, according to The New York Times.

“At Ozy, we have been blessed with an extraordinary team of dedicated staff,” the company’s board told The New York Times. “Many of them are world-class journalists and seasoned professionals to whom we owe enormous gratitude and who are wonderful colleagues. Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that we must announce today that we are closing the doors of Ozy.”

A spokesperson for Ozy Media was not immediately available for comment. According to Axios, which also reported that Ozy Media is closing, the company had 75 full-time employees.

The news follows a week of misconduct reports and lies to the company.

The New York Times first reported On Sunday an Ozy executive later revealed that he was COO Samir Rao, posing as a YouTube executive in a conference call with Goldman Sachs, which was considering a $ 40 million investment in the company. The company had also reportedly vastly inflated its monthly unique visitors, a metric used by media companies to attract advertisers.

That report caused the company to plummet.

On Wednesday, former BBC presenter Katty Kay and one of Ozy Media’s executive producers, resigned from the company in the midst of the aftermath.

Thursday, Marc Lasry resigned as president of Ozy Media after just three weeks on the job. Billionaire investor Lasry is the CEO of Avenue Capital Group and owner of the NBA champions, the Milwaukee Bucks.

“I think going forward, Ozy requires experience in areas like crisis management and investigations, where I have no particular experience,” Lasry said Thursday. He added that he is still an investor in Ozy Media.

CNBC also reported Thursday that Ozy Media founder Carlos Watson lied when he claimed that Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne invested in his company. The Osbournes filed a trademark lawsuit in 2017 for the company name Ozy Fest, which is the firm’s annual concert and festival. Osbourne told CNBC that Watson took advantage of his connections to billionaire Ozy Media investor Laurene Powell Jobs to threaten lawsuits. “This guy is the biggest cheater I’ve ever seen,” Osbourne said.

Ozy Media also promised the former producers that it was filming a show for A&E, according to a report in The New York Times on Thursday. But the producers found that that too was a lie, and that A&E never had plans to air interviews that Ozy Media had filmed, according to The New York Times.

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