Jamaican-Roots Founder Shuts Down Ozy Media After NY Times Expose

Carlos Watson, founder of the now shuttered US online magazine OZY.com, was born to Jamaican immigrant parents in Miami. (Photo by Britta Pedersen/picture alliance via Getty Images)

By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. Oct. 4, 2021: Ozy Media, founded by a Jamaican roots one time investment banker and television anchor, dramatically closed its doors Friday after a New York Times expose on Sept. 26th.

The company, founded by Carlos Watson, the son of Jamaican immigrants, came to a sudden halt only five days after the Times’ detailed how the digital media company became a darling of investors by ironically telling lies and misrepresenting facts.

The biggest lie unveiled by The Times was the apparent impersonation of Alex Piper, the head of unscripted programming for the YouTube Originals team.

The Times said that co-founder and COO Samir Rao went on a conference call with Goldman Sachs bankers about a potential $40 million investment and impersonated Piper by using a digitally altered voice to extoll the virtues of Ozy Media’s video channel.

After the reported deception was revealed, the leadership of Ozy Media blamed it on a mental health issue and allowed Rao to stay in his executive position.

It was also claimed that Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne were investors in the company, but she told CNBC last week that they have never been shareholders in and called Watson “the biggest shyster I have ever seen in my life.”

Prior to the company shuttering, former BBC journalist Katty Kay publicly resigned, advertisers ran for the hills, and its chairman Marc Lasry – owner of the NBA World Champion Milwaukee Bucks – resigned just three weeks after taking the post.

Watson on Friday then stepped down from the board of National Public Radio and by afternoon, the news broke that Ozy was shutting down entirely.

Watson, 52, was born in Miami. He is one of four siblings born to Jamaican parents.

Watson often describes himself as both the son and grandson of teachers. As a working-class family, they often struggled financially throughout his youth, regularly needing help from food stamps. Being labeled a problem child early in life, Carlos was asked to leave kindergarten in 1974, but entered first grade the next year.

He attended Ransom Everglades School in Miami, then Harvard University. During high school and college, he wrote more than 50 articles for the Miami Herald and the Detroit Free Press, and worked for Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez and then-Senator Bob Graham.

Watson graduated with honors with a degree in government from Harvard University in 1991. He then worked as Chief of Staff and Campaign Manager for Florida Representative Daryl Jones, and managed Bill Clinton’s 1992 Election Day effort in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

Watson subsequently attended Stanford Law School, where he was an editor of the Stanford Law Review and president of the Stanford Law School Student Government.

After graduating from Stanford Law School in 1995, Watson began work at McKinsey & Company. After two years at McKinsey, Watson left to co-found Achieva College Prep Service based in San Mateo, California. Watson sold Achieva in 2002 to competitor Kaplan, Inc. He later worked as the Global Head of Education Investment Banking for Goldman Sachs.

Watson began a television career in 2002 with guest appearances on Fox News and Court TV as a political analyst. On Labor Day, 2003, he hosted an interview show on CNBC. Watson hosted a second interview show and was offered his own continuing interview show on CNBC, before joining CNN as a regular newscast contributor.

For two years, he appeared regularly as a political commentator on CNN, most notably covering the 2004 presidential election with Wolf Blitzer, Larry King and Jeff Greenfield.

Also, while at CNN, Watson wrote a column on CNN’s website and hosted two airings of his own prime-time show interviewing Shaquille O’Neal, Barack Obama, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Heidi Klum. Watson also hosted Meet the Faith on BET.

In 2007, Watson began hosting a series of one-hour primetime interview specials on Hearst Television stations across the country called Conversations with Carlos Watson.

In 2009, Watson was named co-anchor of an hour-long MSNBC segment with Contessa Brewer, while continuing to appear bi-weekly on Morning Joe.

Watson was a founder and investor in The Stimulist, a daily blog that operated from mid-to-late 2009.

In September 2013, Watson launched Ozy, a daily digital news and culture magazine, with fellow former Goldman Sachs alum Samir Rao.