Ozy Media Chairman Marc Lasry Steps Down, Raising Heat On Maligned Digital Startup – Deadline

The heat on Ozy Media has been turned up a notch as its chairman, Marc Lasry, opted to step down from the digital company.

The billionaire hedge-funder and co-owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks opted out in the wake of a damaging New York Times report about Ozy.

“I believe that going forward Ozy requires experience in areas like crisis management and investigations, where I do not have particular expertise,” Lasry said in a statement shared with multiple media outlets. “For that reason, I have stepped down from the company’s board. I remain an investor in the company and wish it the best going forward.”

Times media columnist Ben Smith revealed that COO and co-founder Samir Rao had impersonated a YouTube executive during a conference call with Goldman Sachs concerning a potential investment. Ozy founder Carlos Watson explained that Rao had been suffering from a mental health crisis. The possibility of a criminal probe or other consequences from the episode has been looming over the company. Marquee hire Katty Kay, a former BBC personality, left Ozy yesterday.

Rao has taken a leave of absence, and the company hired a law firm for an internal investigation of its businesses activities. It company said the firm will review Ozy’s leadership.

Along with the conference call issue, Ozy has also faced questions about its proclamations about its footprint. Smith has questioned the company’s reports about its traffic, YouTube views and social following, and his column ushered in days of speculation about Ozy’s legitimacy.

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