Many people hadn’t heard of Ozy Media until last month, when a New York Times article revealed the company’s Chief Operating Officer impersonated a YouTube executive on an investment call with Goldman Sachs and called into question the company’s business practices.
Since then the company — a startup news organization centered around “the new and the next” that raised tens of millions from investors and attracted top talent from major publications and the BBC — has been accused of lying about its metrics, misappropriating PPP loans, and deceiving investors. It announced it was shutting down Friday. Days later, Ozy Chief Executive Officer Carlos Watson—a Goldman Sachs alum and former MSNBC anchor whose own Ozy talk show was at the center of the scandal—changed his mind during a Today Show interview. Now, it is unclear what will come next for the company, particularly as the accusations waged against Ozy and its leadership include illegal activity.
Ozy and the chaos surrounding it may be hard to unpack. We’ve broken down the key pieces of news you should be reading on the scandal and why.
- “Goldman Sachs, Ozy Media, and a $40 million Conference Call Gone Wrong,” The New York Times: This is the story that broke the news, and it lays out the key elements of the initial conflict. It explains COO Samir Rao’s impersonation of a YouTube executive, Ozy’s relationship with blue-chip investors, and the debate over the company’s claims about its metrics.
- Carlos Watson’s Today Show Interview: This clip highlights the next major piece of the Ozy saga: Watson’s reversal of the decision to close Ozy. In this interview, Watson declares this scandal to be Ozy’s “Lazarus moment,” referencing the biblical figure who Jesus brings back to life four days after he dies. Watson also discusses why people should trust him given the company’s track record.
- “Ozy Media’s Deepening Crisis,” Axios: This story breaks down new allegations facing Ozy that the company lied to investors about Google Ventures running their next funding round.
- “Ozy Media got $5.7 million in relief loans to help pay employees, but ex-staffers say they didn’t see any of it,” CNBC: This story details yet another potential scandal facing Ozy. It questions what the company did with PPP loans while employees were laid off and pay cuts.
- “Goldman Sachs was duped by Ozy Media more than once,” the New York Post: A look into Goldman Sachs’ relationship with Ozy, and how the company’s alleged false claims about their readership may have hurt a separate deal with Goldman.
- “Let me tell you what it was like to work at Ozy” The New York Times: This column features an ex-Oxy employee who was fired from the company twice (not, apparently, unusual for Ozy, and part of a story the author, Eugene S. Robinson, told on Substack a few days before). It gives insight into the inner workings of the company, its shortcomings as a business, and what he describes as a “poisonous culture.”