Ozy Media to close down after advertisers flee, chairman resigns and Sharon Osbourne cries foul

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Ozy Media mentioned late Friday it could shut down after massive advertisers put their campaigns on maintain and the digital media startup’s billionaire chairman resigned amid a slew of weird scandals — together with shock allegations from actuality star Sharon Osbourne.

“At Ozy, we have been blessed with a remarkable team of dedicated staff. Many of them are world-class journalists and experienced professionals to whom we owe tremendous gratitude, and who are wonderful colleagues. It is therefore with the heaviest of hearts that we must announce today that we are closing Ozy’s doors,” an announcement from its board mentioned, in accordance with the New York Times.

As of Friday night, the location was nonetheless on-line. There was no speedy indication of when or how it could end up the lights.

Ford, Airbnb, Goldman Sachs and Target are among the many corporations that had earlier pressed pause on their campaigns with the media firm, costing Ozy as a lot as $5 million in income, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing unnamed sources.

Ford confirmed the information, saying: “We are pausing our advertising while Ozy Media addresses their current business challenges.” Airbnb, Goldman Sachs and Target didn’t instantly return requests for remark.

Late Thursday, billionaire Marc Lasry, who’s proprietor of the Milwaukee Bucks NBA crew and CEO of the buyout agency Avenue Capital, resigned as Ozy’s chairman after simply three weeks on the job.

“I believe that going forward Ozy requires experience in areas like crisis management and investigations, where I do not have particular expertise,” Lasry mentioned. “For that reason, I have stepped down from the company’s board. I remain an investor in the company and wish it the best going forward.”

Separately Thursday, actuality star Sharon Osbourne mentioned the corporate’s disgraced co-founder and CEO Carlos Watson falsely claimed that she and her husband, heavy-metal legend Ozzy Osbourne, had been buyers within the firm.

Sharon Osbourne
Sharon Osbourne mentioned Ozy Media co-founder and CEO Carlos Watson lied about her and husband, Ozzy Osbourne, being buyers within the enterprise.
Getty Images

Earlier this week, a New York Times report uncovered that Ozy’s co-founder and COO Samir Rao impersonated a YouTube government on a name with potential investor Goldman Sachs. That article and a number of other follow-ups have additionally claimed that Ozy incessantly inflated key enterprise metrics to different buyers and even lied to its personal workers about enterprise operations.

Since then, the FBI has reportedly begun wanting into the cellphone name that alleged Rao pretended to be a YouTube exec with a view to drum up investor {dollars}. Although Ozy has not publically launched an announcement, Watson tweeted Monday that the Times article was a “hitjob.” He hasn’t tweeted since.

The dustup with the Osbournes began in 2017 when the couple filed a trademark lawsuit over Ozy Media’s annual live performance and competition, which known as Ozy Fest. For years, The Osbournes had produced the Ozzfest music competition, which featured acts akin to Black Sabbath, Tool and Slayer.

Carlos Watson
Ozy Media co-founder and CEO Carlos Watson referred to as an unflattering report by the New York Times a “hitjob” in a tweet earlier this week however has not tweeted since.
Getty Images

“Fun fact: our friend Ozzy and Sharon sued us briefly, and then we decided to be friends and now they’re investors in Ozy,” Watson mentioned on CNBC two years in the past. 

That was a flat-out lie, in accordance with Sharon Osbourne, who spoke to CNBC on Thursday.

“This guy is the biggest shyster I have ever seen in my life,” she mentioned, including that Watson tried to intimidate her whereas the lawsuit was being filed, saying that Ozy Media has a slew of assets and will draw out the authorized battle a lot that the household could be saddled with exorbitant authorized charges for years to come back.

The two sides settled after the Osbournes shelled out $300,000 in authorized charges. The settlement required that Ozy Media submit musical acts and advertisers to Osbourne for approval, in order to ensure there was no overlap. 

SV Angel, an early investor in Ozy led by legendary Silicon Valley enterprise capitalist Ron Conway, surrendered the shares it acquired within the firm in 2012, Axios reported.

Separately, veteran journalist Katty Kay, who joined Ozy in May, introduced her resignation from the media firm after writing on Twitter that she discovered the allegations to be “deeply troubling.”

Ozy’s board earlier this week introduced that it employed a legislation agency to launch an exterior investigation “following reports of conduct that is not in keeping with our standards of values.” The board additionally mentioned it requested Rao, the COO on the middle of a number of the allegations, “to take a leave of absence pending the results of the investigation.”

However, within the unique Times story that sparked the flurry of exercise on the media upstart darling, Lasry — then the chairman of the board — mentioned the board was conscious of the incident and supported the way it was dealt with.

“The board was made aware of the incident, and we fully support the way it was handled,” he was quoted as saying. “The incident was an unfortunate one-time event, and Carlos and his team showed the kind of compassion we would all want if any of us faced a difficult situation in our own lives.”