Ozy Media, which announced on Friday it was shutting down after a tumultuous week in which the company’s management, business practices, culture, readership, and value were all loudly called into question, is back from the dead, its embattled CEO claimed on Monday morning. “We’re going to open for business … This is our Lazarus moment, if you will; this is our Tylenol moment,” CEO and co-founder Carlos Watson said during an appearance on the Today Show, less than three days after the company’s board of directors publicly announced “with the heaviest of hearts” that it was “closing Ozy’s doors.” The move left 75 employees out of work.
Ozy’s troubles began a week ago, when the New York Times reported that the company’s COO had impersonated a YouTube executive to talk up Ozy’s bona fides during a call with investors in February. The report triggered an ongoing cascade of scrutiny and revelations about the company, including a follow-up postmortem from the Times on Sunday night.
Watson acknowledged on Monday that Ozy had suspended operations last week “with a plan to wind down.” But, he added, “as we spent time over the weekend, we talked to advertising partners, we talked to some of our readers, some of our viewers, our listeners, our investors,” after which he decided to reverse course. (“Just because something is sloppy or stupid doesn’t mean it’s illegal,” Watson claimed in a wan defense of the company.) Axios reported Monday that Watson’s announcement “came as a shock to many of those employees who lost their jobs (and email access) last week”:
“I think [Watson] is delusional enough to believe what he was doing was a part of the path to greatness, and that the idea of OZY can still win,” a (now former) OZY employee tells Axios. “And that’s why it still seems he won’t apologize any time soon and will go down all guns blazing.”
While Axios pointed out that Ozy still faces investigations into whether it defrauded investors — and that it’s unclear how much cash the company has on hand — on Monday, the Times’ Ben Smith reported
CNN Business added that, with three of Ozy’s five board members having already resigned since last week’s Times exposé, the “company has already, in effect, dissolved.”
As of midday Monday, the company doesn’t appear to have published anything new on its website since Saturday, a day after the announcement that Ozy was shutting down.
But wait! A sign of life!