Brian Watson, CEO of Oz Media, says his scandal-ridden firm will reopen
Scandalous Ozy Media’s CEO Carlos Watson tried Monday to explain away the various violations that led to the demise of his company last week, while vowing to revive the media company despite the flight of investors and advertisers.
It’s another dramatic twist in Ozy Media’s sudden demise. Watson informed employees on Friday that the board had voted to close the company, CNBC reported.
“We were premature,” said Watson in an interview in CNBC’s “Squawk Box” about the decision. He added that the company had “good conversations” with investors and advertisers over the weekend.
“We have a lot of things to do to improve, but I really feel like we have a meaningful, transformative voice,” he added. “At best, this will be our Lazarus moment.”
It’s unclear whether the company’s employees will be returning or how Watson, the co-founder of Oxy Media, plans to continue operations and when. A spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. According to Axios, the company had 75 full-time employees.
The New York Times first reported last week that the company’s chief operating officer, Samir Rao, posed as a YouTube manager when he called Goldman Sachs while looking for a $ 40 million investment. The company also reportedly inflated audience numbers.
That report sparked a week of investigating and leaving the company.
Billionaire investor Marc Lasry resigned as chairman of Ozy Media last Thursday, saying the company needed experience in crisis management and investigations. Former BBC presenter Katty Kay also resigned from the company.
CNBC reported Thursday that Watson lied when he claimed Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne invested in his company. The Osbournes filed a trademark lawsuit in 2017 over the company name Ozy Fest, the company’s annual concert and festival.
“The final decision was that they would receive shares in our company,” said Watson. “I think people who own shares in our company are investors.”
Ozy also promised former producers to direct a show for A&E, which, according to the Times, later turned out to be a lie. The program eventually appeared on Ozy.com and YouTube.
Watson told CNBC on Monday that the company “originally” designed the show with A&E. “We found that they have a different schedule than we do, so we switched to YouTube,” he said.
“There’s no doubt that when the show started last summer we were originally hoping we would do it with A&E,” he added. Watson then checked the names of a handful of celebrity guests who appeared on the show.
The Times also reported that Ozy had touted “The Carlos Watson Show” as “Amazon Prime’s First Talk Show”. However, Ozy had uploaded the show to the platform through a frequently used service that does not receive advertising from Amazon. The company later complained, and Ozy apologized, according to the report.
“We definitely made some mistakes … I know we want to have bigger conversations about whether mistakes are ingrained in our being or whether, like many young companies, we made mistakes, but that was the 20%, not the 80 % who we are, “Watson told CNBC.
In the interview, Watson repeatedly defended his media company while also making some admissions of wrongdoing.
“It was an incredibly lewd week,” he said later, criticizing the media reports about his company. Watson then added that the company should have been better on data, marketing, leadership, and culture.
– CNBC’s Alex Sherman contributed to this report.
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