Ozy Media chairman quits after bombshell NYT report

Billionaire investor Marc Lasry has stepped down as the chair of embattled US media firm Ozy media, amid a scandal over its business practices.

It came a day after former BBC News presenter Katty Kay quit the company.

Ozy is conducting an investigation after the New York Times reported its co-founder deceived potential investors on a conference call.

Mr Lasry, who owns the NBA basketball team the Milwaukee Bucks, had only been chairman for three weeks.

In a statement he said: “I believe that going forward Ozy requires experience in areas like crisis management and investigations, where I do not have particular expertise.”

He added that he remains an investor in Ozy Media.

The Californian start-up, which was launched in 2013, produces podcasts, television series and events.

This week, the New York Times reported that its co-founder Samir Rao impersonated a senior leader at YouTube during a conference call with Goldman Sachs in February. At that point the investment bank was considering making a $40m investment in the media company.

Mr Rao reportedly claimed that Ozy’s videos were highly popular on YouTube.

According to the Times, the investors realised something was wrong and did not go through with the deal. Goldman Sachs has declined to comment.

‘Mental health crisis’

Ozy founder Carlos Watson initially defended Mr Rao, saying he had been suffering a mental health crisis, the newspaper reported. But amid growing scrutiny, Ozy this week began an internal investigation and said Mr Rao had taken a leave of absence.

On Wednesday, Katty Kay announced she had quit the firm after just three months. The veteran broadcaster, who worked for the BBC for more than three decades until this summer, called the allegations against the company “deeply troubling”.

On Friday, the Times published fresh claims about Ozy made by a former producer, Brad Bessey.

Mr Bessey, who was hired this summer to produce a new talk show hosted by Mr Watson, was reportedly told from the start it would appear in a prime time slot on the US cable network A&E.

Yet he later found out A&E had rejected the show before it began taping, the Times said. Mr Bessey reportedly quit the firm, accusing Mr Watson and Mr Rao of playing “a dangerous game with the truth”.

In the end “The Carlos Watson Show” show appeared on Ozy’s own website and Youtube.

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