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In a statement Thursday, Lasry said “I believe that going forward, Ozy requires experience in areas like crisis management and investigations, where I do not have particular expertise. … I remain an investor in the company and I wish it the best going forward.”
Lasry was named chairman of Ozy earlier this month. His fund led a $35 million investment round in Ozy in 2019.
Lasry’s resignation comes as Ozy continues to deal with the fallout from a New York Times exposé earlier this week. The story, by Ben Smith, included an anecdote about Ozy’s co-founder and COO Samir Rao impersonating a YouTube executive while on a fundraising call with Goldman Sachs.
Since the story broke, Watson stepped aside as host of the documentary portion of the News and Documentary Emmy Awards, A+E pulled a previously scheduled episode of an Ozy-branded program that Watson was set to host, and Katty Kay, the star BBC anchor who left to join earlier this year, resigned from the company.
Ozy’s board also hired law firm Paul Weiss “to conduct a review of the company’s business activities” and asked COO Rao “to take a leave of absence pending the results of the investigation.”
In addition to its current troubles, Ozy is also facing a ticking time bomb due to explode in 2023, a problem that could be magnified if it is unable to raise more cash, and if its business continues to struggle.
According to securities filings, Ozy has raised millions of dollars in debt financing from Western Technology Investment, at an eye-watering 12.8 percent interest rate. For comparison, BuzzFeed, another digital media player with big ambitions, raised debt financing as part of its SPAC merger earlier this year. BuzzFeed’s interest rate: 7 percent.
The Times story said that after the Goldman call imploded, the company was able to secure funding elsewhere, though neither Ozy nor the Times has detailed the size or source of that investment. Ozy has not filed a Form D with the SEC detailing any new funding, either.
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