Ozy Media: Kaput in Two Days

Ozy Media showed up on the Barometer’s radar after a bizarre story appeared on September 30, 2021. Ozy Media has been around on the Internet since 2013. Ozy had the usual podcasts, interviews. and some YouTube documentaries. The story was that an Ozy Media executive, Samir Rao (co-founder and COO) posed as a YouTube executive during a conference call with Goldman Sachs. Goldman was considering a $40-million investment in the company. The role of the YouTube executive, fake though he may have been, was to verify Ozy’s presence and hits on social media.

Goldman thought the executive’s voice sounded digitally altered and, showing surprisingly good judgment, opted not to go with an investment in the company. Tip to Goldman — Go with Zoom meetings rather than just a phone call. You can match the face with online photos (hopefully).

When the story of the stolen-identity-to-dupe-investors scam surfaced, Ozy lost Katty Kay, one of its podcasters and a three-decade BBC journalists. She referred to the scam as “serous and deeply troubling.” Ozy media attributed the behavior of Mr. Rao to a “mental health crisis.” Following the call, Mr. Rao took some time off. Ozy”s CEO and the other co-founder, Carlos Watson, said he was “proud” to have “stood by” Mr. Rao, who has since returned to the office.

Mr. Watson pulled out as host of the News and Documentary Emmy Awards show for fear of distraction due to the Ozy issues. A major investor pulled out of Ozy and the Ozy board commissioned an investigation. Ozy closed its doors (pulled the plug? crashed its site?) on October 1. Quite a fall, but faking an identity to rope in an investment banker may not be the most effective business strategy. But, if failure is the goal, there was no better nor faster formula for self-destruction.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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