Ozy Media Implodes

Ozy Media, a digital media site that was founded by CEO Carlos Watson in 2013, has announced the suspension of its operations and the decision to close down. The announcement came five days after a damning report was published by The New York Times, shedding light on Ozy’s questionable business practices. The report triggered further investigations from other media outlets, leading to a cascade of negative coverage. Ozy was founded with the goal of covering untold stories from around the world, attracting reputable journalists who believed in its mission. However, the recent controversies surrounding the company’s business practices and workplace culture have brought about its untimely demise. As Ozy ceases operations, the once-promising digital media site leaves behind a legacy of shattered ambitions and questions about its management’s integrity.

Ozy Media scandal

In response to the expose from The New York Times, the company’s co-founder and chief operating officer, Samir Rao, was accused of impersonating a YouTube executive during a call with Goldman Sachs. Ozy attributed this incident to a “mental health crisis.” Despite CEO Carlos Watson dismissing the report from The New York Times as a “ridiculous hit job” and describing Rao’s actions as a “personal mental health issue,” the damage had been done.

Ozy Media closure

Carlos Watson made the somber announcement of Ozy’s closure during a staff meeting on Friday afternoon. He expressed his gratitude for the dedication and excellence of the Ozy team while acknowledging the disappointment surrounding the decision. Watson assured staff that they would receive their final paychecks and discussed the possibility of severance packages. Some employees will remain with the company for an undefined period while consulting firm Berkeley Research Group will be brought on to assist with the process.

Ozy Media fallout

The fallout from the expose from The New York Times was substantial. Major advertisers suspended their ad campaigns with Ozy, and CNN Business reported on allegations of an abusive workplace culture. Former employees accused Watson of being a “bully,” but Ozy did not provide any comments on the allegations. In response to the mounting controversies, Ozy’s board of directors hired the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP to conduct an investigation into the company’s activities. Samir Rao took a leave of absence pending the results of the investigation. Amidst the turmoil, Ozy also suffered high-profile resignations. Katty Kay, a former BBC correspondent who had recently joined Ozy, announced her resignation on Twitter. The chairman of Ozy’s board, Marc Lasry, also resigned, citing the need for expertise in crisis management and investigations, areas where he lacked experience. In addition to the company’s suspension, CEO Carlos Watson resigned from the board of NPR, where he had been a member since 2016.

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