*Former Ozy Media staffers say they are definitely not returning to the job amid reports that the company is closing following a scathing New York Times exposé about a conference call gone wrong.
We previously reported that the closure comes after a co-founder of the company impersonated a YouTube executive during a funding call with a Goldman Sachs banker while attempting to raise $40 million from the investment bank.
The incident prompted a review of Ozy’s leadership, and despite the company’s announcement last week that it would be closing, Carlos Watson, co-founder of the disgraced digital-media venture, went on TV Monday morning to say that Ozy Media is not going away anytime soon. Watch him tell it via the clip below.
“There does not appear to be a plan. Carlos has gone completely rogue,” one former staffer tells TheWrap. “The entire editorial staff is done with him — who would possibly go back? Who the hell is going to want to go on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’ now?”
“We are all sick of the roller coaster,” another former employee said.
“We’re going to open for business,” Watson told “Today” show anchor Craig Melvin. “This is our Lazarus moment, if you will. This is our Tylenol moment. Last week was traumatic. It was difficult, heartbreaking in many ways.”
Per CNN, “The company has already, in effect, dissolved. Three of the five board members resigned in the wake of The New York Times’ Ben Smith exposé about Ozy’s misrepresentations,” the outlet writes.
Watson responded with a tweet calling the New York Times exposé a “ridiculous hitjob.”
Amid rising scrutiny of the company over the alleged fraudulent activities, Ozy announced Friday it is shutting down. While Watson claims the show will go on, per TheWrap, he has not provided any further details on how he’s going to relaunch a company that his board abruptly shut down last week.
Eugene Robinson, a former editor at large at Ozy said that Watson was “nuts” to try to relaunch so soon after the controversy surrounding his own company.
“The brand is damaged beyond repair and the name never made sense,” Robinson told TheWrap. “I’d launch again with a lot of the same staff sans Watson and Rao and rebrand. But I think that golden goose is dead.”
On Monday, Watson claimed that he is reaching out to Ozy staffers.
“Anyone who wants to come back, I’m going to be excited about that and will have those conversations this week and try to make work,” he told Axios.
“Considering that the staff wasn’t told we weren’t closing, and his statement [on Monday] talked only about advertisers, investors and viewers, I am definitely not returning,” one former staffer said. “I’m also just disillusioned with the company. I don’t see how it would work.”