Top Line

Ozzie Media’s audience claims over 26 million customers for its newsletters, but former employees say it is another example of deceptive tactics at the beleaguered digital media company, with most of the people on its newsletter list either purchased, subscribed or subscribed from other companies without their permission. are added back to the lists after they are finished. —A possible illegal infringement (representatives for Ozzy have not responded Businesshala repeated requests for comment).

important facts

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Three former employees with knowledge of Ozzy’s newsletter operations, who asked to remain anonymous due to non-disclosure agreements, said the company obtained a large number of email addresses on several occasions. marketing partnership It formed with other companies and news outlets.

Oozie will offer to send an email to another company as part of the partnership, and some companies will share a list of emails for a one-time email.

Instead, former employees allege, those emails will then be permanently added to Ozzy’s newsletter subscriber list.

The companies they say OG collectively amassed millions of email addresses were the McClatchy newspaper chain and the technology magazine Wired, according to two former employees (McClachee and Wired’s parent company Condé Nast responded to requests for comment). Didn’t answer. Businesshala)

Ozy will also buy in bulk emails from third-party websites such as US Data Corporation and Precise Data, in order to increase the size of its newsletters in order to complete advertising deals with its customers.

Following the influx of new subscribers, many people will attempt to unsubscribe from newsletters only to be placed on Ozzie’s email lists and even re-subscribe under the direction of Ozzie management, which enforces commercial email laws. potential infringement.

Ozzy, Watson and Rao did not respond to requests for comment from Businesshala.

what we don’t know

Has Ozzy broken the law by re-subscribing people to their newsletters. Controlling the Attack of Non-Solicited Obscenity and Marketing Act of 2003, a law known as can-spam, Makes it illegal for the recipient to send commercial email because they have explicitly stated that they do not wish to receive the message. Companies should have clear ways to “opt-out” and honor those requests promptly. Violation of this Act may be punishable with tens of thousands Dollar per email.

Eric Goldman, a professor at Santa Clara University’s School of Law and co-director of its High Tech Law Institute, explained that whether Ozzie’s emails qualify as “commercial” is under debate. While some of the newsletters sent out by Ozzy are overwhelming advertisements, it could be argued that their primary purpose is not to promote that sponsor.

Even though Ozy may not have violated CAN-SPAM, its email practices may be in violation of other data and privacy laws. “They have to navigate a long list of laws that apply,” Goldman said, explaining that the rules vary by state. For example, in California, where Ozzy is headquartered, failure to honor a request to delete personal information may be a violation of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

chief critic

Two employees said they were uncomfortable with what they were asked to do with Ozzy’s email lists and would back down against the founders’ requests. “[We] It’ll be like, ‘We can’t do that,’ and they’ll be like, ‘We don’t care. Do it,’ said one. “It was a brute force method. They only cared that they had so many lists and emails.”

online, many people have complained About not opting out of Ozzy’s newsletter lists.

Brian Morrissey, former editor-in-chief of Digiday Media, who now writes rebooting The newsletter, described Ozzie’s newsletter accumulation methods as “unique” and questioned why companies were willing to hand over their data, an action they described as “far from best practices”.

against

A source familiar with Wired’s practices says that, if such a breach had occurred with its newsletters, it would also have been an internal breach, and standard practices for sharing Wired do not include sharing or giving access to Wired newsletter emails. Happen.

tangent line

Despite a “very low” organic audience and low engagement numbers, according to a source familiar with Ozzie’s newsletter audience, Ozzie has achieved a great deal. pitch deck Summers to investors for its Series D funding round, which it claimed was receiving an email open rate of 25%, or (in Ozzy’s words): “2.5x the industry standard.” Watson admitted that the number was exaggerated during an interview with CNBC on Monday, claiming it instead represented Ozzy’s engagement rate among “the best, most regular guys.” Watson still claimed that this subset of Ozzy’s audience is between 10 and 12 million people.

main background

Ozy Media has made headlines over the past two weeks for its questionable business practices and ongoing revelations about the increased numbers. a. sparked by new York Times pillar About how co-founder and COO Samir Rao impersonated a YouTube executive in an attempt to secure $30 million in funding from Goldman Sachs, articles revealed that Ozzy was massive. misrepresenting metrics Such as traffic, YouTube views and social media following to entice advertisers and investors. Businesshala’ His own reporting detailed how Ozzy claimed he had sold 100,000 tickets to a festival in Central Park while struggling to land 5,000 years earlier, but the misrepresentation was eventually resolved in a fortunate time. But it was hidden by the heatwave. Following an exodus from investors, advertisers and board members, OG’s board of directors announced Friday that the company would be shutting down. However, Watson backtracked on the hoax claims and declared Ozzy open for business on Monday, reversing his path.

“How Ozzy Fest Was About to Be the Next Fyre Festival—Until a Heat Wave (and Insurance Claims) Kicked Them Out” (Businesshala)