Ozy Media, the digital media company that came under scrutiny for its business practices in recent days, announced on Friday that it was shutting down.
“At Ozy, we have been blessed with a remarkable team of dedicated staff,” the company’s board of directors said in a statement. “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.”
The company, led by the former MSNBC anchor Carlos Watson, was founded in 2013. It attracted high-profile investors including Emerson Collective, the organization run by Laurene Powell Jobs, and Marc Lasry, a hedge fund manager and the co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball franchise.
In a statement last week, Emerson Collective distanced itself from Ozy, saying that it “did not participate in Ozy’s latest investment round and has not served on its board since 2019.” On Thursday, Mr. Lasry resigned as the chairman of the Ozy board.
The announcement of the shutdown came five days after The New York Times published an article that raised questions about the company, including detailing an episode in which a top executive at Ozy appeared to have impersonated a YouTube executive during a conference call with Goldman Sachs bankers while the company was trying to raise $40 million.
Ozy’s success depended to some degree on the performance of the company’s videos on YouTube. On the conference call, the impersonator told the Goldman Sachs team that Ozy was a great success on the platform.
After the call, Google, the owner of YouTube, alerted the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and Goldman Sachs received an inquiry from federal law enforcement officials, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. The F.B.I.’s San Francisco field office would not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.