Ozy Media, the digital media firm that got here underneath scrutiny for its enterprise practices in latest days, introduced on Friday that it was shutting down.
“At Ozy, now we have been blessed with a exceptional staff of devoted employees,” the corporate’s board of administrators stated in a press release. “A lot of them are world-class journalists and skilled professionals to whom we owe super gratitude and who’re great colleagues. It’s due to this fact with the heaviest of hearts that we should announce as we speak that we’re closing Ozy’s doorways.”
The corporate, led by the previous MSNBC anchor Carlos Watson, debuted in 2013. It attracted high-profile traders together with Emerson Collective, the group run by Laurene Powell Jobs, and Marc Lasry, a hedge fund supervisor and the co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball franchise.
In a press release final week, Emerson Collective distanced itself from Ozy, saying that it “didn’t take part in Ozy’s newest funding spherical and has not served on its board since 2019.” On Thursday, Mr. Lasry resigned because the chairman of the Ozy board, saying in a press release, “I imagine that going ahead Ozy requires expertise in areas like disaster administration and investigations, the place I should not have explicit experience.” Ron Conway, a Silicon Valley investor and an early Ozy backer, stated this week that he had returned his shares to the corporate.
The announcement of the shutdown got here 5 days after The New York Occasions revealed an article that raised questions in regards to the firm, together with detailing an episode by which a prime govt at Ozy appeared to have impersonated a YouTube govt throughout a convention name with Goldman Sachs bankers whereas the corporate was making an attempt to boost $40 million.
Ozy’s success depended to some extent on the efficiency of the corporate’s movies on YouTube. On the decision, the impersonator advised the Goldman Sachs staff that Ozy was an important success on the platform.
Mr. Watson apologized to Goldman Sachs after the decision, saying the impersonator was Samir Rao, the co-founder and chief working officer of Ozy. In his apology to Goldman Sachs and in an e-mail to The Occasions final week, Mr. Watson stated that Mr. Rao had been going via a psychological well being disaster on the time and was “now thriving once more.”
After the convention name, YouTube’s safety staff began an investigation of the matter. As well as, Google, the proprietor of YouTube, alerted the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Goldman Sachs acquired an inquiry from federal regulation enforcement officers, in accordance with three individuals with data of the matter. The F.B.I.’s San Francisco area workplace wouldn’t affirm or deny the existence of an investigation.
Ozy additionally misplaced considered one of its largest stars in latest days. The previous BBC anchor Katty Kay, who had joined Ozy this 12 months after practically three a long time on the British broadcaster, introduced on Twitter that she had handed in her resignation on Tuesday morning, saying that “the allegations in The New York Occasions, which caught me without warning, are critical and deeply troubling and I had no alternative however to finish my relationship with the corporate.”
Brad Bessey, an Emmy-winning govt producer, and Heidi Clements, a longtime TV author, stated in an article revealed in The Occasions on Thursday that that they had been misled by Ozy executives whereas they had been engaged on “The Carlos Watson Present,” Mr. Watson’s discuss present, for the corporate. Particularly, they stated, executives had advised them the present would seem on the cable community A&E. Mr. Bessey resigned when he discovered there was no such deal in place, and the present ended up showing on YouTube and the Ozy web site.
Along with Ms. Powell Jobs, early traders included Axel Springer, the Berlin publishing big, and David Drummond, the previous chief authorized officer at Google. In 2019, Ozy stated it raised $35 million from a bunch led by Mr. Lasry. The Ford Basis, looking for to help a minority-led firm, additionally backed the corporate with grants, its president, Darren Walker, stated. By April 2020, Ozy had raised greater than $83 million and valued itself at $159 million, in accordance with the info service PitchBook.
This can be a growing story. Verify again for updates.