Ozy Media under scrutiny in impersonation scandal

The web media firm whose co-founder impersonated a YouTube government in an obvious try to draw buyers has appointed a regulation agency to analyze its practices.

Ozy Media, whose web site guarantees customers that it’s going to “defy conference, change views and ignite concepts”, has appointed Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to overview the corporate’s enterprise, it stated.

It follows a report within the New York Occasions that broke particulars of the impersonation and questioned Ozy Media’s viewers figures and advertising and marketing claims. The regulation agency’s overview was subsequently reported by the Wall Avenue Journal.

Samir Rao, co-founder and chief working officer, is on the centre of the information report’s key declare that he impersonated a YouTube government on a convention name with Goldman Sachs, which was a possible investor, earlier this 12 months.

Ozy Media has confirmed the incident occurred, which it stated was the results of a psychological well being episode.

Rao has been requested to take a depart of absence by the board pending the outcomes of the investigation.

Harry Hawks, a media veteran and former chief monetary officer of Hearst Tv, has been appointed as interim chief monetary officer through the overview.

Katty Kay, a veteran BBC journalist who left the organisation in Could to work for Ozy, stated on Wednesday that she had resigned. “The allegations within the New York Occasions, which caught me unexpectedly, are critical and deeply troubling,” she stated.

Carlos Watson, chief government, co-founder and the general public face of Ozy Media, earlier this week launched a press release that he despatched to workers concerning the New York Occasions article.

It included a quote from Marc Lasry, the billionaire co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball staff who’s chair of Ozy Media, that confirmed the board had been made conscious of the Goldman Sachs convention name and supported the best way it was dealt with. “The incident was an unlucky one-time occasion,” Lasry stated within the quote.

Ozy Media was based in 2013 as a digital media start-up by Watson and Rao and has since expanded into podcasts, TV and occasions. Germany’s Axel Springer, companions at non-public fairness agency Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, which is making an attempt to purchase UK grocery store Morrisons, and Lasry are amongst those who have invested within the firm.

The New York Occasions questioned Ozy’s declare in 2019 that it reached 50m distinctive customers a month and in contrast that to information from Comscore, which measures on-line engagement, which confirmed figures at a fraction of that stage.

Watson responded within the workers memo posted to Twitter that the corporate has a database of 26m publication subscribers, an viewers of 25m for its podcasts and on-line TV exhibits and a “social attain” of 30m. “Ozy’s development . . . has been fully actual,” the assertion stated.

Silicon Valley enterprise capital group SV Angel surrendered its shares in Ozy yesterday after having invested within the firm’s seed spherical of funding in 2012, stated one individual briefed on the matter. SV Angel and its founder Ron Conway declined to touch upon the transfer, which was first reported by Axios.

Ozy has stated it’s unaware of any investigation into its practices after the New York Occasions wrote that Google, which owns YouTube, alerted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to the convention name with Goldman Sachs.

Watson additionally stated on Twitter that he was “heartbroken” by the report, which he dismissed as a “ridiculous hitjob”.

Ozy Media didn’t instantly reply to a request for additional remark. Rao couldn’t be reached for remark.

Further reporting by Miles Kruppa in San Francisco

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