Nov 1, 2019

OZY Media raises $35 million

Carlos Watson interviewing Malcolm Gladwell at OZY Fest. Photo courtesy of OZY Media.

OZY Media, a media and entertainment company led by Carlos Watson, said Friday that it's raised $35 million in new venture capital funding.

The bottom line: OZY originally launched as a digital magazine for the "change generation," but has moved its focus toward TV production, podcasts, and live events.

  • OZY's new funding round was led by Marc Lasry, a hedge fund manager and co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks. Lasry also will join OZY's board of directors.
  • Other investors included Interlock Partners, LionTree, Atinum Investment, GSV Capital, Axel Springer, Emerson Collective, and three partners of buyout firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.
  • The Silicon Valley-based company has now raised around $70 million since being founded in 2013.

The big picture: Watson tells Axios that the shift toward TV was driven in part by Facebook algorithm changes, and in part by the explosive growth in new TV platforms (including all the streaming services).

  • He also says that the annual OZY Fest event will return to New York City next summer, after this year's event was canceled due to excessive heat.
    • "It was zero percent fun," says Watson of the cancellation, after OZY had sold more than 100,000 tickets. "It's something we learned from."
  • Watson declined to comment on revenue, except to say that OZY's top-line has grown around 50% year-over-year for the past four years, and that the company expects to be profitable in calendar 2020.

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The Boomers' media behemoth

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AARP, formerly known as The American Association of Retired Persons, is one of the largest media companies in the country, bringing in more than $174 million annually in media-based advertising revenue, according to public filings.

"OK, millennials. But we're the people that actually have the money," Myrna Blyth, senior vice president and editorial director of AARP Media, said in an interview with Axios, referencing the popular "OK, boomer" tagline that youngsters are using to poke fun at older people online.

Go deeperArrowNov 12, 2019

Guild Education raises $157 million in Series D funding

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Guild Education, a Denver-based education benefits platform for Fortune 1000 companies, raised $157 million in Series D funding led by General Catalyst at a $1 billion post-money valuation.

Why it matters: Guild's mission is to help workers catch the increasingly elusive American dream, by better enabling them to obtain degrees and credentials required for higher-paying jobs.

Go deeperArrowNov 13, 2019

U.S. taxpayers have spent $6.4 trillion on post-9/11 conflicts

A boy watches a U.S. convoy on patrol in Syria, Oct. 31. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images

American taxpayers so far spent $6.4 trillion on costs related to and caused by post-9/11 wars and conflicts in more than 80 countries, according to a new report by the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

The big picture: The institute notes that because the conflicts have been largely paid for with deficit spending, their total cost will continue to rise from loan interest — even if the U.S. withdraws from major war zones by the end of fiscal year 2020. Ongoing care costs for veterans will also increase the eventual cost.

Go deeperArrowNov 20, 2019