Katty Kay Resigns From Ozy Media Following NYT Report

The announcement came a day after Ozy’s board said it had hired a law firm to investigate its “business activities.”

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Katty Kay resigns from Ozy Media after a New York Times report about the firm.

Katty KayCredit…Vanessa Vick for The New York Times

Sept. 29, 2021Updated 12:03 p.m. ET

The embattled digital media company Ozy lost one of its biggest stars on Wednesday, when Katty Kay, a former BBC anchor, announced on Twitter that she had resigned.

Ms. Kay said in her post that she had handed in her resignation Tuesday morning.

“I had recently joined the company after my long career at the BBC, excited to explore opportunities in the digital space,” she wrote. “I support the mission to bring diverse stories and voices to the public conversation. But the allegations in The New York Times, which caught me be surprise, are serious and deeply troubling and I had no choice but to end my relationship with the company.”

Last year, while at the BBC, Ms. Kay started hosting a podcast, “When Katty Met Carlos,” with Ozy’s co-founder and chief executive, Carlos Watson. She joined Ozy over the summer, with her last broadcast for BBC after nearly three decades there taking place on June 24. “It’s been a privilege to sit in this chair,” she told viewers, “and I’ll miss your company.”

Ms. Kay’s announcement that she was leaving Ozy came a day after the company’s board said it had initiated an investigation following a New York Times report that raised questions about its business practices.

Founded in 2013, Ozy has a general interest news site, publishes newsletters and produces interview programs and documentaries, some of which appear on YouTube.

The Times reported on Sunday that an Ozy executive had apparently impersonated a YouTube executive during a conference call with Goldman Sachs in February, when the bank was considering an investment of $40 million in the company.

During the call, the person said that Ozy’s videos were a great success on YouTube. As he spoke, his voice sounded strange to people on the Goldman Sachs team, as if it had been digitally altered, and the bank ended up not going through with the potential deal.

Mr. Watson said in an email to The Times last week that the person was Samir Rao, Ozy’s co-founder and chief operating officer. He attributed the episode to a mental health crisis and said that Mr. Rao had taken some time off after the conference call but had since returned to the company, which is based in Mountain View, Calif. “I’m proud that we stood by him while he struggled, and we’re all glad to see him now thriving again,” Mr. Watson said.

The Times report also raised questions about claims Ozy had made about how many people visited its website and watched its online videos.

On Tuesday, Ozy’s board announced that it had hired a law firm to investigate the company’s “business activities” and its leadership team. In its statement, the board added that it had asked Mr. Rao to take a leave of absence “pending the results of the investigation.”

Also on Tuesday, Mr. Watson pulled out of his scheduled appearance as the host of an Emmys ceremony on Wednesday night honoring documentary filmmakers, part of the 42nd News and Documentary Emmy Awards. An Emmys spokesperson said in a statement that Mr. Watson “graciously reached out to us and asked to be removed from his hosting duties tomorrow night so as not to distract the focus from the talented nominees in the documentary categories.”

And Ozy Fest, a music and ideas festival run by the company that was scheduled to take place Oct. 16 and Oct. 17 in Miami, has been canceled, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

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