HANNAH BLEAU Digital media firm Ozy Media abruptly shut down Friday following allegations of fraud and a reportedly toxic workplace environment, leaving big-time investors, including Laurene Powell Jobs — the powerful leftist billionaire widow of Steve Jobs — in the dust with their multimillion-dollar investments.
The company, founded in 2013, abruptly shut down this week following the publication of a damaging New York Times article, reporting that someone at Ozy allegedly impersonated a YouTube executive during a business meeting with Goldman Sachs investors, who were apparently considering a $40 million investment in the company.
“Once everyone had made the switch to an old-fashioned conference call, the guest told the bankers what they had been wanting to hear: that Ozy was a great success on YouTube, racking up significant views and ad dollars,” the Times reported.
“After the meeting, someone on the Goldman Sachs side reached out to Mr. Piper, not through the Gmail address that was provided to participants before the meeting, but through Mr. Piper’s assistant at YouTube. That’s when things got weird,” the Times continued:
A confused Mr. Piper told the Goldman Sachs investor that he had never spoken with her before. Someone else, it seemed, had been playing the part of Mr. Piper on the call with Ozy.
When YouTube learned that someone had apparently impersonated one of their executives at a business meeting, its security team started an investigation, the company confirmed to me. The inquiry didn’t get far before a name emerged: Within days, Mr. Watson had apologized profusely to Goldman Sachs, saying the voice on the call belonged to Samir Rao, the co-founder and chief operating officer of Ozy, according to the four people.
The report triggered departures from the company — including Marc Lasry chairman of the Ozy Media board — as well as additional allegations of an abusive work environment. But, the damage was too much, and Ozy announced it was shutting its doors Friday.
Calling it a company with “world-class journalists and experienced professionals to whom we owe tremendous gratitude,” the board said it was “with the heaviest of hearts that we must announce today that we are closing Ozy’s doors.”
Big-time investors in the company include the tech heiress’s philanthropic outfit Emerson Collective.
“EC functions primarily as a private business owned by Jobs’s personal trust. This shields it from IRS disclosure rules and allows it to more freely engage in political activity,” Breitbart News’s Alexander Marlow wrote, describing the bombshell revelations about Jobs, the “new Soros,” in his New York Times bestseller Breaking the News: Exposing the Establishment Media’s Hidden Deals and Secret Corruption.
“She has become a secret super-power behind a vast network of left-wing media outlets, organizations, and politicians,” he writes in Breaking the News:
Laurene Powell Jobs topped Business Insider’s list of world’s richest women in tech in 2019, even though she’s not really “in tech.” She’s in the philanthropy/being an heiress business. What Jobs does is leverage her incredible wealth, infinite Rolodex, and relatively secretive public persona to wield unfathomable amounts of influence on the American culture. If there’s a well-known persona comparable to Laurene Powell Jobs, it’s Hungarian billionaire George Soros. Soros is known for his philanthropy, but also for being a one-man piggy bank for the far left. (Recently, Soros-connected groups have spent big pushing the Green New Deal, taxpayer-funded health care for illegal aliens, and the expansion of mail- in voting.)
A good share of Laurene Powell Jobs’s power is through the Emerson Collective (EC), which she founded; she currently serves as its president. The Emerson Collective, according to Forbes, is “a hybrid philanthropic and investing limited liability company.” That’s a pretty murky description (which is probably the point), but it seems like the EC has devised a clever and convenient structure where they can claim they are “investing” when the business has a chance to succeed and they are doing “philanthropy” when they fund entities for purely ideological reasons with little or no hope of making money. I’m not sure which of the two categories it falls under, but the Emerson Collective owns the Atlantic.
According to Forbes, Ozy Media raised over “$83 million in funding at a valuation of at least $159 million, according to PitchBook,” as of April 2020.
As Daily Mail described it, “Ozy had raised a total of $70.3 million in venture capital funding since its inception, and the shutdown means that those investors, including Laurene Powell Jobs, will likely see their hopes of a return evaporate.”