Entertainment

Ozy Media to Shut Down, Following Revelations of Questionable Business Practices

Ozy Media is shutting down. Per a statement from the company’s board of directors: “At Ozy, we have been blessed with a remarkable team of dedicated staff. Many of them are world-class journalists and experienced professionals to whom we owe tremendous gratitude, and who are wonderful colleagues. It is therefore with the heaviest of hearts that we must announce today that we are closing Ozy’s doors.”

The news comes a day after billionaire businessman Marc Lasry, who had just been named chairman of Ozy Media earlier this month, cut ties with the crumbling organization.

“I believe that going forward, Ozy requires experience in areas like crisis management and investigations, where I do not have particular expertise,” he said in a statement. “For that reason, I have stepped down from the company’s board. I remain an investor in the company and wish it the best going forward.”

Lasry is the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks and head of a hedge fund that raised $35 million in funding for Ozy in 2019. As chairman, the goal was to oversee strategic planning, and help Ozy handle large partnerships, including mergers and acquisitions.

Lasry’s exit came a day after former BBC News anchor and correspondent Katty Kay, who had just joined Ozy Media in late June, also departed. The exodus comes following revelations of the digital company’s practices, led by CEO Carlos Watson.

The Ozy shakeup came quickly after a New York Times column, by Ben Smith, who revealed that Ozy Media chief operating officer Samir Rao impersonated a YouTube executive on a call with potential Goldman Sachs investors. Rao has now taken a leave of absence from the company, and his bio has been removed from Ozy’s website.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP had been hired to conduct a review of the company’s business activities.

In the Times piece, Lasry said that “the board was made aware of the incident, and we fully support the way it was handled.”

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