Investor and advertiser sources are scrutinizing Ozy after a New York Times article called into question the media company’s audience numbers and reported its cofounder Samir Rao impersonated a YouTube exec on a call with Goldman Sachs.
The fallout has already begun. Ozy faces an FBI probe. Its board announced it hired a law firm to conduct an investigation into its business practices; crisis PR firm the Levinson Group also was brought on to work with the firm and the board. Its cofounder and CEO Carlos Watson stepped down from hosting duties at Wednesday’s documentary Emmys. One of Ozy’s biggest stars, the journalist Katty Kay, has resigned.
Watson disputed to The Wrap that he inflated Ozy’s figures; he hasn’t responded to Insider’s requests for comment.
Founded in 2013, Ozy has raised $83 million as of 2020 from high-profile and star-studded investors including Marc Lasry, Laurene Powell Jobs, Ron Conway, and LionTree, on the promise of building a new kind of media company aimed at millennials, even as outlets like BuzzFeed have called into question its audience over the years.
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