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Digital media company OZY becomes profitable amid the pandemic

Business model innovations pay off big even amidst the pandemic

US-based international digital media company OZY became profitable for the first time in 2020. Despite the cancellation of its in-person events, a strong slate of TV shows and podcasts, as well as digital advertising, brought the company around $50 million in revenue over the last year.

OZY was founded as a digital magazine and daily newsletter seven years ago. Since then, it expanded its product range, most notably by producing dozens of TV shows and podcasts. They now bring half of OZY‘s revenue, Axios reports.

The company is co-founded and led by Carlos Watson, a CNN anchor turned digital media entrepreneur. According to Axios, “OZY is one of the few digital media companies today that was founded and is run by a person of color.” It has branded diversity and global perspective as foundations of its mission. Millennials comprise OZY’s core audience.

Apart from its digital media divisions, OZY is notable for its events, particularly the OZY Fest franchise. OZY Fest has been described by GQ as a “sizzling hot festival for folks who love Coachella and neoliberalism.” Its cancellation in 2020 due to the pandemic didn’t prevent the company from moving into the black.

The company has reportedly received acquisition offers from several major media firms, but has declined the offers.

In 2021, OZY plans to expand virtual events activities and focus on building a global network of in-person events for the next several years. It has over 20 TV shows in the plans for 2021, as well as several podcasts which are parts of the company’s portfolio.

OZY becoming profitable is an optimistic signal for the world of digital native media, many of which have struggled in recent years. In 2019, WSJ wrote about a reckoning for “new media companies” after Vice, Buzzfeed, and several other outlets axed jobs by 10 or more percent. With the pandemic piling on to already dire market trends, media worldwide cut jobs and down-sized prior ambitions.

More from The Fix: The legacy of COVID-19 for publishers

Photo by Ales Nesetril on Unsplash

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