Media firm Ozy closes as problems escalate | national news

Ozy closes less than a week after a New York Times column raised questions about the media organization’s claims of millions of viewers and readers, while highlighting a potential case of securities fraud.

The story sparked canceled issues, an internal investigation, investor concern and high level departures in the business.

An emailed statement from Ozy Media’s board of directors on Friday called it a company with many “world-class journalists and seasoned professionals to whom we owe immense gratitude.” He said it was “with the heaviest of heart that we must announce today that we are closing the doors of Ozy”.

The board’s statement did not give the reason for shutting down the Mountain View, California-based company. Ozy did not answer questions about why it is shutting down now or how many employees it has.

Ozy CEO, former cable news commentator and host Carlos Watson, started Ozy in 2013. He has posted stories on his website, created podcasts, newsletters and shows, and hosted the OzyFest. . Her website remained online Friday afternoon.

The Times article said Ozy COO and co-founder Samir Rao impersonated a YouTube executive during a call with Goldman Sachs as he tried to raise funds with the investment bank. He also answered long-standing questions from the industry about whether Ozy was inflating the size of his audience.

In a tweet, Watson claimed 25 million newsletter subscribers – the New York Times, with a much larger brand presence, says it has 15 million newsletter readers – and over 30 million views on Youtube. The Times said less than 500,000 people visited Ozy’s website in June and July, according to data from Comscore.

Marc Lasry, the hedge fund billionaire and Milwaukee Bucks co-owner who was named president of Ozy in September, resigned, citing Ozy’s need for someone experienced in crisis management and investigations . He remained an investor.

A high-profile employee, former BBC presenter Katty Kay, resigned earlier in the week, and an early investor, a venture capitalist, gave up his Ozy shares. The board reportedly hired a law firm to review Ozy’s business activities.

Cable network A&E released a special on mental health hosted by Watson that was scheduled for Monday night, and Watson stepped down from hosting an Emmy Awards documentary Wednesday night.

The Crunchbase website, which tracks corporate fundraising, said Ozy had raised more than $ 70 million from investors by the end of 2019.

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