Ozy Media, Once a Darling of Investors, Shuts Down in a Swift Unraveling

In an article in The Times on Thursday, Brad Bessey, an Emmy-winning executive producer, and Heidi Clements, a longtime TV writer, said Ozy executives had misled them while they were working on “The Carlos Watson Show,” Mr. Watson’s talk show, for the company. Specifically, they said, executives told them that the show would appear on the cable network A&E. Mr. Bessey resigned when he learned there was no such deal in place, and the show ended up appearing on YouTube and the Ozy website.

Also this week: Advertisers including Chevrolet, Walmart, Facebook, Target and Goldman Sachs itself — many of which had been paying for placement on “The Carlos Watson Show” — hit the brakes on their spending with Ozy.

By Friday afternoon, Mr. Watson and the other remaining board member, Michael Moe (another high-profile investment figure, who had published a book called “Finding the Next Starbucks”), concluded that the company could not recover and issued the farewell statement through a spokeswoman.

Mr. Watson did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

CNN, Insider and other publications reported this week that working conditions at Ozy were difficult, and The Times, along with other publications, raised questions about the company’s claims of audience size for its online videos and website.

The Ozy staff received the news that the company was no more on Friday afternoon. “It’s heartbreaking for all the people who poured their hearts and souls into this company and produced journalism often under grueling, sometimes hostile, conditions that deserved a much wider audience,” Pooja Bhatia, a writer who worked at Ozy from 2013 until 2017, said in an interview shortly after she got word.

Nick Fouriezos, an Ozy reporter who left in June, said, “We were all devastated by the amount of deception that was going on by leadership, but I would stand 100 percent by the journalism that was done there, and the people that were working there were some of the most passionate hardworking journalists anywhere.”

Mr. Fouriezos said reporters on Friday frantically archived their articles, anticipating the possibility that the website would be taken offline and their work lost.

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