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Digital News Startup Ozy Media Raises $10 Million to Expand Video Team, Hire More Journalists

Silicon Valley startup Ozy Media — a next-generation news startup hoping to follow in the footsteps of BuzzFeed and Vice Media — has banked a $10 million in third-round funding.

The investment, led by venture-capital firm GSV Capital, brings Ozy to $35 million raised to date. (Ozy declined to disclose its current valuation.) Previous investors include German media conglomerate Axel Springer, Emerson Collective, and several Silicon Valley angel investors including Laurene Powell Jobs, Ron Conway, David Drummond, Larry Sonsini and Dan Rosensweig.

Ozy said it will use the funding to continue to hire editorial staff that “discover and report on important, cutting-edge stories being told nowhere else,” and to grow its video team and production capabilities. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company claims to reach over 25 million monthly unique users online (across multiple distribution platforms) and 2 million newsletter subscribers. According to comScore, Ozy’s website drew 6.4 million unique visitors in the U.S. in December 2016 — down 41% from the year prior — although total audience grew to about 20 million for Ozy Media (across Ozy.com and affiliated sites) by the end of last year.

The startup was founded in 2013 by Carlos Watson, a former TV host and journalist who appeared on MSNBC, CNN and other networks, and Samir Rao, who previously worked as an associate at Goldman Sachs. Ozy currently has about 50 employees.

“Ozy is committed to feeding curiosity and connecting people around the world,” GSV chairman and CEO Michael Moe said in announcing the investment. “We’ve never been more confident in not only their ability to do this, but that more intelligent, compelling, and global stories is what the world needs right now.”

Last year, the company — whose coverage spans politics, culture, sports, food and technology — marked its first foray into TV with political documentary series “The Contenders – 16 for ’16,” which aired on PBS in the U.S. and worldwide on the BBC leading up to the 2016 Presidential Election. It also launched its first live event with the one-day Ozy Fusion Fest in New York City’s Central Park which featured guests including will.i.am; Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, creators and stars of Comedy Central’s “Broad City”; author Malcolm Gladwell; and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker.

“Media is only average right now; it lacks energy, creativity, and substance,” Ozy CEO and co-founder Watson said in a statement. “Now more than ever before people are looking for a news source outside the echo chamber, players in the space that are doing something different.”

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