Billionaire investor Marc Lasry announced Thursday that he’ll resign as chairman of Ozy Media’s board, just days after reports emerged that Ozy’s COO and co-founder impersonated a YouTube executive on a call with potential investor Goldman Sachs.
Lasry — who’s also owner of NBA champions the Milwaukee Bucks and CEO of private-equity firm Avenue Capital Group — was named Ozy’s chairman just three weeks ago.
“I believe that going forward Ozy requires experience in areas like crisis management and investigations, where I do not have particular expertise. For that reason, I have stepped down from the company’s board,” Lasry said Thursday in a statement.
“I remain an investor in the company and wish it the best going forward,” he added.
It’s the latest example of fallout after The New York Times published an investigation into Ozy that outlined COO Samir Rao’s efforts to deceive potential investors by impersonating a YouTube executive.
That article and several follow-ups have also alleged that Ozy frequently inflated key business metrics to other investors and even lied to its own employees about business operations.
Since the allegations have emerged, SV Angel, an early investor in Ozy led by legendary Silicon Valley venture capitalist Ron Conway, surrendered the shares it acquired in the company in 2012, Axios reported.
Separately, veteran journalist Katty Kay, who joined Ozy in May, announced her resignation from the media company after finding the allegations to be “deeply troubling.”
And Ozy’s board earlier this week announced that it hired a law firm to launch an external investigation “following reports of conduct that is not in keeping with our standards of values.”
The board also said it asked Rao, the COO at the center of some of the allegations, “to take a leave of absence pending the results of the investigation.”
However, in the original Times piece that sparked the flurry of activity at the media upstart darling, Lasry — then the chairman of the board — said the board was aware of the incident and supported how it was handled.
“The board was made aware of the incident, and we fully support the way it was handled,” he was quoted as saying. “The incident was an unfortunate one-time event, and Carlos and his team showed the kind of compassion we would all want if any of us faced a difficult situation in our own lives.”
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