October 20, 2021

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Ozy Media CEO Carlos Watson Said Company Will Not Close

  • Ozy Media CEO Carlos Watson said the company would stay operating despite a string of scandals.
  • Ozy’s board said on Friday the startup would close after cofounder Samir Rao impersonated a YouTube executive during a fundraising call.
  • Watson called the board’s decision “premature,” and said the company would improve.

Ozy Media, a media startup rife with scandals during the last two weeks, will not shut down after all, according to CEO Carlos Watson. 

Ozy Media’s board announced on Friday that the company would close its doors after a New York Times report detailing a poor management and a string of scandals at the company, including Chief Operating Officer and cofounder Samir Rao impersonating a YouTube executive during a fundraising call.

Watson said the company’s board of directors decision to shutter the company was “premature” during a Monday interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“We have lots of things we have to do to improve, but I very genuinely feel like we have a meaningful, transformational voice,” Watson told CNBC. “At our best, this will be our Lazarus moment.”

The report of Rao’s impersonation, which took place during a call with Goldman Sachs to secure a $40 million investment, led to an FBI probe over the incident, demands from investors and advertisers for answers, and board chair Marc Lasry’s resignation. 

The YouTube executive impersonation was not the company’s only problem. Former employees told Insider Ozy’s top brass demanded staff to work 80-hour weeks to churn out content, leading to most employees quitting after just a year.

“It’s the worst place I ever worked,” one former employee told Insider. “My mental health was never as bad as when I worked at Ozy.”

Ozy Media was not immediately available for additional comment.

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