Ozy Media, exposed years ago for faking its traffic and exposed last week for trying to rope Goldman Sachs into a $40m investment by posing its own co-founder as a YouTube executive on a conference call, is no more.
The abrupt collapse riveted media observers not because Ozy had a large number of loyal readers — that, in the end, was the problem — but because many had wondered how the company had managed to survive. The answer had to do with a charismatic and relentless founder, a great story and a slick brand that was perfectly tuned to appeal to noted Silicon Valley investors and powerful advertising executives.
The compant abruptly shut down late Friday, a traditional not-so-weird trick to limit the scope for hostile reportage, but the New York Times' Ben Smith is out for blood. This morning he compares the other Ozy co-founder, Carlos Watson, to Theranos' Elizabeth Holmes, currently on trial on fraud charges.
Want to know how a bunch of seemingly sophisticated people fell for a company that every social media intern in America had questions about? A pitch deck Ozy circulated to potential investors last fall included a graphic featuring the smiling faces of a few high-profile backers: the billionaire philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs; Marc Lasry, a hedge fund manager and a co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team; and Mathias Döpfner, the chief executive of the German publishing giant Axel Springer. Wouldn't you want to join that club?
"I met a traveler from an ancient blog," etc.