Media company Ozy is shutting down as problems mount

A recent New York Times article about Ozy Media pointed out misleading stats about readers and a potential case of securities fraud.

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Ozy is shutting down 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 also pointing out a potential case of securities fraud.

The story triggered canceled shows, an internal investigation, investor concern, and high-level departures at the company.

Ozy Media Carlso Watson
Former MSNBC host Carlos Watson led the company. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

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

The board’s statement did not give the reason for shutting down the company based in Mountain View, California.

The Times story said Ozy’s chief operating officer, Samir Rao, impersonated a YouTube executive on a call with Goldman Sachs while attempting to raise money from the investment bank. It also addressed long-held industry questions of whether Ozy was inflating its audience size.

OZY FEST thegrio.com
Carlos Watson speaks onstage during OZY FEST 2018 at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on July 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images for Ozy Media)

On Thursday, Marc Lasry, the hedge-fund billionaire and Milwaukee Bucks co-owner who had been named Ozy’s chairman in September, resigned. A high-profile employee, former BBC anchor Katty Kay, resigned earlier in the week, and an early investor, a venture capital firm, gave up its Ozy shares. The board had reportedly hired a law firm to review Ozy’s business activities.

Ozy published stories on its website, made podcasts, newsletters and shows, and hosted the OzyFest festival. Its website remained up on Friday afternoon.

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