Ozy Media, the digital magazine and lifestyle outlet launched in 2013, has raised $35 million in a new round of financing to support the expansion of its TV production, live events and podcasting operations.
Marc Lasry, co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, led the series C funding round with participation from Interlock Partners, LionTree, Atinum Investment, iHeart Media and Tom Franco, Don Gogel and Roberto Quarta, partners in the private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. Lasry has joined the board of Mountain View, Calif.-based Ozy Media, co-founded by former CNN host Carlos Watson and Samir Rao.
The latest investment brings the total financing raised to date by Ozy Media to more than $70 million. All of Ozy Media’s existing investors — including GSV Capital, Axel Springer and Emerson Collective — returned for the new round.
“We are really proud that top-tier investors want to join us,” Watson told Variety.
Ozy Media has turned its focus to producing TV series for OWN and other outlets and launching into the podcast arena. The company bills itself on introducing readers to “the new and the next” in politics, business, pop culture and other broad sectors. The company has hosted the successful Ozy Fest event in New York’s Central Park for the past four years. Watson jokes that the event is a mashup of “a TED Talk meets Coachella.”
With the fresh capital, Ozy Fest will expand to other cities, including outside the U.S. The company has also ramped up its TV production with unscripted series such as the interview show “Black Women OWN the Conversation” for OWN and PBS’ “Breaking Big” and “Third Rail With Ozy.”
Watson sees podcasts as a big opportunity to reach millennial audiences “where they live,” Watson said. The strong demand for Ozy Fest has been a pleasant surprise to the Ozy team. The growth of opportunities in other media sectors has helped the company continue to grow in a tough marketplace for pure-play digital media ventures.
As Ozy intends to expand its TV and podcasting operations, the company is also looking to add creative executives to its team, Watson said.
“Carlos and Samir have built a remarkable company and I am thrilled to be joining OZY’s board,” says Lasry. “The opportunity in the media industry right now is huge, from streaming television to events. It’s exciting to be getting in early at a company at the forefront of media, with a proven ability to create and deliver compelling and differentiated content across platforms.”
(Pictured: Ozy Media’s “Take on America” featuring Carlos Watson, Kimora Lee Simmons and Harmeet Dhillon)