Billionaire Marc Lasry, president of struggling media organization Ozy, resigns


Marc Lasry, the hedge fund billionaire and Milwaukee Bucks co-owner who was named chairman of struggling media organization Ozy earlier this month, has resigned from his board.

“I think to move forward, Ozy requires experience in areas like crisis management and investigations, where I don’t have any particular expertise,” Lasry said in a statement Thursday. “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.

Ozy experienced a snowball crisis after a History of the New York Times earlier this week, the company’s chief operating officer, Samir Rao, posed as a YouTube executive during a call with Goldman Sachs GS,
while trying to raise funds from the investment bank, a potential case of securities fraud. The story also questioned Ozy’s claims of a large audience.

In the article published on Sunday, Lasry said the board was aware of the February incident. He called it an “unfortunate one-time event” and supported the way it had been handled. Ozy’s high-profile CEO Carlos Watson, a former cable news anchor, told The Times that the incident was the result of a mental health crisis in Rao, who took a leave of absence and returned to the job.

But the story’s impact has been explosive in the media industry, where Ozy and his claim to a large audience have long been seen as a mystery. Industry insiders said on Twitter that they had never read or encountered an Ozy story. The company also hosts the OzyFest festival and produces podcasts, newsletters and TV shows.

This week, a high profile employee of Ozy, a former BBC presenter Katty kay, resigned. The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that the company the board had hired law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison to review its business activities and had asked Rao to take time off.

A venture capital firm that was an early investor reportedly sold its Stock Ozy. Cable network A&E released a special on mental health hosted by Watson that was scheduled for Monday night, and Watson resigned from hosting a documentary presented at the Emmy Awards on Wednesday night.

Ozy, who is based in Mountain View, Calif., Did not immediately respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment. Watson last tweet, claiming the Goldman Sachs episode a “mental health issue” and claiming millions of YouTube views and newsletter subscribers, was early Monday morning.


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