Carlos Watson, co-founder of Ozy Media, resigns from NPR board

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Ozy Media co-founder and chief executive Carlos Watson has resigned from NPR’s board of directors, public radio reported on Friday.

“Sir. Watson’s resignation is effective as of today,” NPR board chairman LaFontaine E. Oliver said in a statement.

The resignation came five days after The New York Times ran an article by media columnist Ben Smith that raised questions about Ozy’s business practices, including detailing an incident in which an executive apparently masqueraded as a YouTube executive as Ozy attempted to raise funds.

Mr. Watson joined NPR’s board of directors in 2016 and was elected for another three-year term in September. The board governance committee was scheduled to meet on Friday to discuss Mr Watson’s position, NPR reported.

On Thursday, The Times published another report from Mr Smith that last year Ozy hired a crew to do a talk show for cable network A&E – “The Carlos Watson Show”, hosted by Mr Watson . Guests have been told the show will air on A&E, and the show’s executive producer has been told it will air in August 2020 during prime time.

The problem: A&E said such a deal does not exist. The executive producer resigned after finding out, writing to Ozy executives: “You are playing a dangerous game with the truth. The consequences of giving guests an A&E show when we don’t have one are catastrophic for Ozy and for me.

Here is what we know about the turmoil in Ozy.

When executive producer Brad Bessey resigned, he told show staff that the program was not, in fact, going to air on A&E. Mr. Watson then told people on the Zoom call that “The Carlos Watson Show” would eventually end up on A&E, according to Mr. Bessey and another person on the call. Until then, Watson added, the show would appear on YouTube as part of its YouTube Originals, a list of programs produced by professional studios and paid for by YouTube.

“The Carlos Watson Show” ended up appearing on Ozy.com and YouTube, but not as a YouTube original. A YouTube official confirmed that the show was not a YouTube Original. Mr Watson and a spokesperson for Ozy did not respond to requests for comment.

Read more about the proposed A&E show →

Marc Lasry, chairman of the board of directors of Ozy and a hedge fund manager who is also a co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, resigned Thursday, four days after The Times reported that someone from Ozy appeared to have impersonated a YouTube executive during a conference call. with Goldman Sachs bankers as the company tried to raise $ 40 million.

“I think to move forward, Ozy requires experience in areas such as crisis management and investigations, where I have no particular expertise,” Lasry said in a statement sent by email. “For this reason, I resigned from the board of directors of the company. I remain an investor in the company and wish it the best for the future.

Read more about the resignation of Mr. Lasry →

Katty Kay, who quit her job as a BBC presenter and correspondent to join Ozy in June, said on Wednesday that she had resigned. “The New York Times allegations, which took me by surprise, are serious and deeply disturbing, and I have had no choice but to end my relationship with the company.”

Read more about Ms. Kay’s resignation →

SV Angel, led by venture capitalist Ron Conway, informed Ozy on Tuesday that he was giving up shares he had acquired in the company in 2012, according to an advisor to SV Angel. (Axios first reported that SV Angel was abandoning his actions.)

The board said on Tuesday it had hired Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, a large international company headquartered in New York City, to conduct a review of Ozy’s business operations. The board also said it had asked Samir Rao, Ozy’s COO and the person who apparently posed as a YouTube executive, “to take time off while waiting for the survey results “.

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