Founder and CEO of Ozy Media Carlos Watson posted a video to X (formerly Twitter) on Monday suggesting that he was indicted because of racial motivations against black entrepreneurs. The United States Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York says that he “defrauded investors of tens of millions of dollars through fraudulent misrepresentations and impersonated media company executives during negotiations.”
“Sometimes people of color are warned not to think too big. That the color of your skin will limit what you can hope to accomplish,” Watson says in the video. “Like a lot of black entrepreneurs, I had trouble often getting through the door or getting meetings that they took seriously.”
The Ozy media founder mentions multiple black businessmen who were charged with crimes, including Calvin Grigsby, Joseph Jett and Franklin Raines, arguing that there is a disproportionate number of people of color indicted by authorities.
“Our mistakes are being turned into crimes and we’re having people charge us in a gross and inappropriate way,” Watson says.
“And while I’m not a martyr,” Watson continues, “I do care about the next generation.”
At the end of the video, a narrator says, “Carlos Watson is more than a defendant. He’s a symbol of systemic injustice, a wake-up call for those who choose to listen. Is it prosecution or persecution? You decide. Are there no white people committing crimes in Brooklyn?”
Watson was arrested and indicted in February for securities fraud by federal authorities. The arrest came after Watson’s former partner in the company, Samir Rao, pleaded guilty to fraud charges.
The Watson-led Ozy Media collapsed in 2021 after the New York Times published an exposé alleging that the company inflated its traffic and video viewership numbers. Watson told TheWrap that Ozy Media had made $50 million in revenue in 2020 and turned a profit. He also said that he’d been offered $250 million to be acquired by BuzzFeed in 2019.