After less than a week since Ozy Media was exposed for inflating numbers and potential fraud, the media venture is shutting down.
“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 announced today that we are closing Ozy’s doors,” the board said in a statement Friday.
In less than a week since The New York Times piece, the digital media company that raised a reported $83 million since 2012 is being abandoned by employees, senior executives and investors, including respected TV journalist and producer Katty Kay, investors Laurene Powell Jobs, Ron Conway and Marc Lasry, who resigned this week as chairman of the board just weeks after joining.
Ozy billed itself as a modern media venture that was “ahead of the curve.” This week it has faced a daily onslaught of accusations that it falsely claimed Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne were investors and produced a Carlos Watson-hosted TV talk show while falsely claiming to guests and corporate partners that it would air on A&E. The company also claimed that “The Carlos Watson Show” was Amazon Prime’s first talk show and that it would be part of YouTube Originals. Reps for A&E, Amazon and YouTube have all refuted those claims.
Just days before in a previous interview with TheWrap, Watson defended Ozy’s practices of inflating numbers and said COO Samir Rao’s impersonation of a Google executive was due to his mental health breakdown. Watson called the Times piece “a bulls— ad hominem attack.”
On Monday, Watson appeared to be in tears as he addressed staffers in a company-wide meeting a day after the devastating exposé. Staffers on the call said Watson’s crying appeared “fake” and “theatrical,” an individual with knowledge of the meeting told TheWrap.
Four days later, Ozy has closed up shop.