Ozy Media Board Announces Investigation into Business Practices
The board of directors of online news magazine Ozy Media said it was investigating the company’s business practices following a New York Times report that raised questions about the company.
In a statement, the board of directors of Ozy, which includes Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, said it has hired law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison LLP to “conduct a review of business activities of the enterprise ”.
On Sunday, the New York Times reported that Ozy’s COO, Samir Rao, posed as an Alphabet executive Inc.
YouTube during fundraising appeal with Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
Carlos Watson, CEO of Ozy, said on Twitter On Sunday that Mr. Rao’s behavior during the call was “deeply unhappy” and attributed his behavior to a mental health issue.
The council said it asked Mr. Rao to take time off while awaiting the investigation. The board said Harry Hawks, the former executive chairman and chief financial officer of Hearst Television, had agreed to serve as interim chief financial officer during the review.
Tuesday’s announcement marks a sharp turnaround for the youth-focused media start-up, which said on Sunday its board of directors had been made aware of the incident involving Mr. Rao and had approved of the way it had been. originally processed. In Sunday’s statement, Mr. Lasry said Mr. Rao’s behavior amounted to “an unfortunate one-time event” and praised Mr. Watson for showing compassion to Mr. Rao.
Mr Watson, 51, co-founded Ozy in 2013 after being a banker at Goldman Sachs and a presenter on MSNBC. The company’s name comes from “Ozymandias,” a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley about the statue of a ruler whose kingdom has been eroded by time. On his website, Ozy says he interprets the poem as “a call to think big while remaining humble.”
Ozy publishes news-centric articles, videos and podcasts. Mr. Watson hosts a talk show that featured meetings with musicians and actors including Matthew McConaughey, Scarlett Johansson and “Hamilton” star Daveed Diggs. Ozy also hosts “Ozy Fest,” a series of events featuring bold names in entertainment, politics and business. The Daily Beast announced on Tuesday that an upcoming edition of Ozy Fest, originally slated for mid-October in Miami, has been postponed.
The company has raised money from funders including German publishing conglomerate Axel Springer SE and Emerson Collective, the philanthropic organization founded by Laurene Powell Jobs. Ozy has also attracted investment from Mr. Lasry and David Drummond, the former general counsel of Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
Write to Benjamin Mullin at Benjamin.Mullin@wsj.com
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Published in the print edition of September 29, 2021 under the title “Ozy Media Directors Investigate Practices”.