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Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

One of OZY Media's earliest investors has surrendered its shares in the beleaguered company, Axios has learned.

Driving the news: SV Angel, led by legendary Silicon Valley venture capitalist Ron Conway, informed OZY yesterday that it no longer wants the stock it acquired back in 2012, per multiple sources. Conway declined comment.

Why it matters: It is extremely rare for a VC firm to surrender shares; a rebuke several levels above choosing not to invest further.

What OZY is saying: Nothing. At least not to Axios.

  • OZY co-founder and CEO Carlos Watson did set up a call with us for yesterday morning, and said that chairman Marc Lasry would also participate. But the scheduled time came and went, and our follow-up messages went unanswered.
  • Too bad we got the 👻, particularly because we still have questions about whether or not OZY raised new funding after the Goldman deal collapsed. Several passive investors in the company tell us that they heard nothing of it. One did say OZY conveyed info that a round was in progress, but wasn't sure it ever closed.

But there have been developments since yesterday:

  • OZY's board of directors last night announced that it hired an outside law firm to launch an investigation, "following reports of conduct that is not in keeping with our standards of values."
  • This statement is back-peddling by a board that previously said it knew what was in the reporting, but still opted not to investigate. What's changed is the sunlight.
  • OZY also said it asked COO Samir Rao to take a leave of absence, pending the investigation's results.
  • As a side note, OZY was recruiting for a new COO last fall, per a pitch-deck obtained by Axios. No word on what happened with that process.
  • OZY postponed a live event in Miami that was scheduled for Oct. 16, and Watson stepped down as a host of last night's News & Documentary Emmy Awards.
  • Watson continues to serve on the board of NPR, which he joined in 2016. An NPR spokesperson tells Axios: "Our board is aware of the NYT story, and consistent with our corporate governance, the governance committee will be considering these developments."

The bottom line: An investment in Ozy has become a reputational headache. SV Angel took the most extreme step, but others are distancing themselves, both publicly and privately.

Go deeper

Carlos Watson plans to relaunch Ozy, despite significant setbacks

Carlos Watson. Photo: Kimberly White/Getty Images

Ozy Media CEO Carlos Watson tells Axios that he's planning to relaunch the company's newsletters and look for new board members in an effort to revive the company, which said last week it was ending operations.

Why it matters: Watson offered grand plans in an interview with Axios, but could not give many details about the execution, leaving doubt about what's real and his ability to pull it off.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

State of play: Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though police chief Michael Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers — America struggles to keep schools open
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker

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