Ozy board begins investigation after times report
The board of directors of Ozy, a digital media company, said Tuesday that it had hired a law firm to investigate its “business activities” after The New York Times Report It raised questions about the company’s practices.
In a statement, the board said it had appointed Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, a large international corporation headquartered in New York, to conduct the review. The board also said it had asked Samir Rao, Ozy’s chief operating officer, to “take a leave of absence pending the outcome of the investigation.”
“We will continue to review the company’s leadership in the coming months,” the board said in the statement.
Founded in 2013, Ozy has a general interest news site, publishes a range of newsletters and produces interview shows and documentaries, some of which appear on YouTube. The Times media columnist, Ben SmithAnd mentioned That Mr. Rao apparently impersonated a YouTube CEO during a February conference call with Goldman Sachs bankers who were considering a deal to invest $40 million in Ozy. On the call, the person pretending to be the CEO told the bankers that Ozy’s videos were a hit on YouTube.
Carlos Watson, founder of Ozy, told The Times and posted on Twitter that Mr Rao was going through a mental health crisis at the time of the call. He added that Mr. Rao took some time off work after that, but then returned to the company, which is based in Mountain View, California. “The board was informed of the incident, and we fully support the way it was handled,” Mark Lasry, a hedge fund manager, co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team and chairman of the board of Ozy told The Times in a statement to the article published on Sunday.
After the conference call, Goldman Sachs canceled its potential investment in Ozy, and Google, the owner of YouTube, reported it to the FBI. (The FBI’s San Francisco Field Office will not confirm or deny that an investigation exists.)
On Tuesday, Ozzy’s board said Harry Hawkes, the former chief executive and chief financial officer of Hearst Television, would serve as interim chief financial officer while the company’s leadership was under review.