On Friday, after weeks and weeks of harsh criticisms for its business practices, Ozy Media announced that the company was closing down. After investors and advertisers fled, the board of Ozy Media announced that they were closing down the company’s doors.
On Monday morning, Carlos Watson, the co-founder and CEO of the company, stated that the startup was now “open for business”.
” We’re making headlines today,” he stated in an interview with NBC News’ TODAY show. This is our Lazarus moment. Last week was difficult. It was heartbreaking and difficult. We ended the week by suspending the operation with a plan for winding down. A spokesperson for Ozy stated that the company was creating multi-platform, multicultural content that highlighted stories and issues that are often overlooked but need to be heard. “
To employees who were fired Friday, Ozy said that he was reaching out to the entire team “to encourage them to return” and to answer any questions they may have about Ozy’s future plans. According to the spokesperson, those who do not return will be paid “whatever is owed to” them.
He said that he had spoken to advertisers and investors over the weekend but did not provide details about how the company would continue its work nor who would be working there.
“I believe Ozy is part of this moment and it’s going to not be easy,” Watson, an ex-MSNBC anchor, stated. “But I believe what we do in newsletters, with TV shows, original TV programs, podcasts, and other media — I believe there is a place for it. “
The fallout began last week when The New York Times published a piece by Ben Smith, a media columnist, about the company’s misleading claims and business practices . During a call with Goldman Sachs in February, Samir Rao, Ozy’s co-founder and chief operating officer, allegedly impersonated a YouTube executive while the media company was trying to raise $40 million, the newspaper reported.
A statement by Watson last Monday said that Rao was experiencing a “very personal mental illness” at the time of calling. This has prompted an investigation into Rao’s leadership. According to the Times, Google, the owner of YouTube, reached out to the Federal Bureau of Investigation after the conference call.
After the article was published, one of the company’s chairmen and co-anchors resigned, an early key investor pulled out and Watson himself resigned under pressure from the board of NPR. Ozy Media had announced that it would be closing down . on Friday.
Watson called Monday’s alleged incident with Rao “tragic,” and said he had yet to talk with authorities. This isn’t the first instance that Ozy has been in legal trouble for misleading claims.
In 2017, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne filed a trademark lawsuit over the name Ozy Fest, the firm’s annual concert and festival, CNBC reported. Sharon Osbourne claimed that Watson had falsely claimed that they invested in his company after the Times story.
Watson acknowledged that he had never met the Osbournes, and that the term “investor” may be a misnomer. However, he explained that he was willing to “give her shares” in the company after the Osbournes’ suit.
“She might not have liked that term,” Watson stated. Let’s be honest: I am not going to tell sophisticated people that Sharon Osbourne has an investment. “
Watson was known to be a charismatic and temperamental leader, former employees told CNBC Friday. Many reporters who were expected to write four feature-length stories per week quit due to burnout.
Working at Ozy was like working on the Wall Street trading floor, according to one former employee, who attributed the toxic environment, in part, to the financial backgrounds of Watson and Rao.