CNBC spoke with Carlos Watson, an ex-cable-news commentator and host who co-founded Ozy in 2013. He said that he met investors and advertisers over the weekend and that Ozy should continue.
The company sent an email Monday describing the difficulties of the past week, saying it was "committed to getting over" and that they are "excited to reopen." Ozy also stated that newsletters will resume this week and that video production would resume at the end the month.
The board of directors for Ozy announced Friday that the company would cease operations. The company's shutdown occurred less than one week after a column in the New York Times raised questions about Ozy's claims that it has millions of readers and viewers. It also highlighted a possible case of securities fraud.
This story led to cancellations of shows, an investigation by the investor community, investor concerns, and departures from high-ranking employees at the company, before Friday's shutdown.
According to Crunchbase, Ozy, a California-based company, had raised more $70 million from investors by late 2019. It has been long suspected of exaggerating its audience size. Watson claimed that Ozy had 25,000,000 subscribers to its newsletter, and 30,000,000 YouTube views last week. The New York Times has a larger brand presence and claims it has 15,000,000 newsletter subscribers. According to Comscore data, the newspaper reported that less than 500,000 people visited Ozy's website between June and July. Ozy seemed to be paying more for its audience than it was building a base of readers and viewers.
The company must regain trust with its employees, investors, and advertisers in order to restart. The company abruptly shut down, causing distress to workers. Apart from traffic, it has been exposed in many dishonest circumstances. According to reports, it told interviewers on "The Carlos Watson Show" that the series would air on cable TV. However, episodes were uploaded to YouTube. Watson interviewed Bill Gates and Matthew McConaughey to create the online program. Watson spoke on Monday to CNBC, saying that the original show was created with A&E. Then it was "shifted" to YouTube and that there was "lots miscommunication."
Marc Lasry, the hedge fund billionaire and Milwaukee Bucks coowner, resigned on Thursday. He cited Ozy's need to have someone who is experienced in crisis management, investigations, and administration. He was still an investor. Katty Kay, a former BBC anchor, had resigned earlier this week. A venture capital firm was an early investor and gave up its Ozy shares. According to reports, the board had hired a law firm for a review of Ozy's business activities.