U.S. digital media platform Ozy will shut down after its executives’ accusations misled investors and the public about its audience size, local media reported on Friday.
Launched in 2013 by former cable presenter Carlos Watson, the brand has garnered millions of dollars in funding from investors and a number of prominent partnerships, including the production of an Emmy Award-winning talk show hosted by Oprah Winfrey Network.
But a New York Times investigation on Sunday claimed company executives intentionally inflated traffic numbers and views on other sites, including YouTube.
The report also states that co-founder Samir Rao posed as a YouTube executive to praise his own platform in a phone meeting with representatives from Goldman Sachs, which weighed in at an investment of 40 million. of dollars in Ozy.
Watson apologized to the bank after the ruse was quickly discovered and the video-sharing platform launched a security investigation, according to the report.
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The investigation also revealed that Watson falsely claimed a partnership with Amazon Prime for his eponymous talk show, which launched last year, and that he secured a broadcast deal for the program with US cable channel A&E.
Amazon Prime complained to Ozy about the use of his brand on billboards promoting the show last week, prompting a further apology from Watson, according to the report.
The gap between the platform’s claimed audience size and its actual profile has sparked ridicule from some posts reporting the controversy.
“Ozy Media is shutting down just a week after most of us found out about it,” read a headline about the platform’s shutdown by tech outlet The Verge.
Ozy and Watson did not immediately respond to AFP requests for comment.