What investors saw in Ozy Media

A recent analysis by social media measurement company Tubular Labs suggests that Ozy spent a lot of money increasing the number of views for the videos posted on YouTube by paying to have his videos automatically appear on the screen.

And even when Ozy offered articles that his readers loved and shared in large numbers, it didn’t seem trying to replicate that success, according to a report in the social media-focused newsletter Garbage Day. The articles that were widely circulated were “posts about biscuits, inspiring stories about elephants and exciting mini-documentaries about fashion,” the newsletter reported.

What was left, said a former employee with knowledge of the company’s analytics data, was a real, if tiny, fan base – just not the ones Ozy liked to talk about. “The classic demographics for Ozy was a retired white teacher who Ozy used to stay young and awake and loved learning about the world from her,” said the former associate. Samir Rao, the company’s co-founder and chief operating officer, sometimes joked about bringing in AARP as an advertiser, added the former employee.

Mr. Rao did not respond to a text message and Mr. Watson denied the former employee’s claim. Ozy’s audience, he said, were “smart millennials and Gen Xers with a strong and growing dose of Gen Z”.

In general, Mr. Watson denied a key challenge to his company’s claims: the idea that it was somewhat misleading to present “The Carlos Watson Show” as a hit show while Ozy was actually paying for views – effectively broadcasting his own programs as an advertisement on Youtube.

Mr Watson said that was not a problem. “Like all innovative companies (Netflix, Spotify, Tesla, and more), we’ve definitely invested smartly in marketing to make sure our world-class journalism and storytelling are presented to the right audience,” he said. “We didn’t just want to submit to the whims of the algorithms, which is one of the many reasons Ozy is attractive to advertisers.”

Now the investors and advertisers who have found confirmation in Ozy are left with nothing. Employees are no longer paid. It was an abrupt crash from a dream that wasn’t advertised to investors until June, according to a cover sheet shared with me that the company would be valued at $ 5 billion in 2025 million last summer.)

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