Ozy Media isnt going to close down after all.
CEO Carlos Watson appeared on NBCs Today show Monday morning and stated that he and the firm s board had a change of heart after saying that Ozy would close its operations.
Watson told Craig Melvin on NBC that we are going to open for business, so we are making news today. This is our Lazarus moment, if you will [a reference to Jesuss biblical character who was brought back to life a few days after his death].
Watson said they made the decision after talking to Ozy advertisers and the companys investors.
Last week was a traumatic, difficult, and heartbreaking week in many ways. And we did suspend operations at the end of the week with a plan to shut down, Watson said. Ozy is certainly part of this moment, he adds, but as we spent time over the weekend talking with advertising partners, some of our readers, certain of us viewers, members of the audience, and some listeners, as well as some investors, Oze is part of it.
Ozys board was made up of him and GSV Ventures co-founder Michael Moe, he said later in the interview, but unable to disclose who was currently funding the company.
Nevertheless, Watson suggested that Ozy might alter its ways.
The last couple of days gave a lot of people courtesy to take cheap shots, and thats not to say there arent things we could do better, he added. We need to improve on data, we need, and we think there are some things we could do better on leadership and culture, he added.
But he took a swipe at some of the recent media coverage.
When you saw people start to put my name in the leade alongside [Theranos founder] Elizabeth Holmes, who never had a real product, but who raised billions of dollars? Watson said. We have five newsletters that reach millions of people, and a dozen television shows, including one that won an Emmy. That is not a house of cards.
And then there was the call with Goldman Sachs, the incident in Ben Smiths New York Times column that broke the dam of coverage about the digital media company. Smith stated in a letter that Ozy co-founder Samir Rao impersonated naive YouTube executive while on securing money with the bank.
Watson told Melvin that that is a terrible situation, it is horrible, nothing positive about that at all." Im grateful that Goldman didnt invest, because that would have been the worst of all, he added.
Ozy, he added, has done some impressive things when it comes to premium content, forward-looking content and reaching a diverse audience, and it began ten months later, with rebranding and establishing statewide advertising partnerships, according to him.
Watson left NPRs board of directors last week following the news coverage, and Marc Lasry, who had been Ozy's chairman, left.