1.3 years of our lives will be spent searching for something to watch, according to an estimate by Quartz. With the numbers of new shows, films and streaming platforms swelling, our decision paralysis is likely to get worse.
So we asked people: what makes a show or film worth your time? The top response that came back: “if I want to talk about it afterward.”
The Watercooler was born as a way to help you find shows and films across all platforms that you’ll want to talk about afterward. With guidance from a diverse community of writers, subject matter experts, and streaming guides, who are factoring in frame of mind and co-viewing, we hope you’ll discover films and TV series that are worth your time — and maybe even find a Binge Viewers Club to watch with and swap notes with afterward.
Ultimately, The Watercooler offers an antidote to the isolation of binge watching and the time suck of endless scrolling – introducing us to content the algorithms might not show us, bringing the human layer back to search and the shared experience back to viewing.
Meet the Team
Co-Founder | Operations
A writer and contributor to outlets including Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and The Washington Post, Melissa also worked in a variety of roles for HBO, Amazon and Twentieth Century Fox. She founded The Watercooler HQ to create more relevant ways for people to discover films and original series, and to help foster more connection and community around entertainment.
Aneesha Rao is a Google alum and the founder of Lantera Labs, a marketing strategy and execution agency for enterprise and SMB companies. She works with brands like Side Real Estate, Outdoor Voices and Tiina the Store. Rao also founded the non-profit Lantera Education to educate those in marginalized communities, providing them access to affordable technical education. She is a data whiz at heart, and a proponent of trying anything.
Cindy White has spent nearly two decades covering the entertainment industry for outlets including IGN, Collider, SyFy Channel, GeekMom, and more. Her published work also includes a romance novel set in Hollywood. She lives in the wild suburbs of Los Angeles with her husband and twin daughters.
AD INNOVATION STRATEGIST
AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT LEAD
Antonia Santoro is a Digital Marketing and Audience Development professional with 10+ years of experience working in the media and publishing industries. Most notably, Antonia has worked at The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly, setting their digital audience growth and retention strategies across distribution platforms. She is also a certified Pilates instructor and a proud cat-mom to Tina Purrner, the hardest-working paws in show business.
Liam Mathews is a New York-based writer and editor who was previously the Reviews and Recommendations Editor at TV Guide. He was also the creator and host of A Beautiful Podcast to Fall in Love, a podcast about The Bachelor, and the co-host of the Telly Award-winning Game of Thrones explainer video series Theorizing Thrones. He’s written for Esquire, Playboy, Fast Company, Gold Derby, and many other publications.
SOFTWARE & DATA ENGINEER
Lazar is a software engineer, data scientist and entrepreneur with deep interest in psychology, pedagogy and educational IT systems. He’s spent years developing information systems that introduce users to more diverse points of view and foster the exchange of ideas with less friction and prejudice. As part of the Netflix Prize competition, and inspired by his work in multidisciplinary team which included psychologists and psychiatrists, he independently developed an effective recommender algorithm.
CREATIVE PRODUCTION LEAD
A veteran Creative Executive Producer with The New York Times and Amazon Advertising, Josh has led innovative, story-based marketing productions, resource and project management for hundreds of leading brands, from AmEx and Unilever to CBS and Google. As a senior partner to Clients, Sales, Product, Data and Ad Tech teams, he’s helped transform clients’ business problems into actionable solutions, curating teams and orchestrating end-to-end execution and optimization of campaigns.
Jess Carpenter is the author of the novel Les is More and a writer whose work has been featured by Scary Mommy, Psych Central, and more. With an M.S. from the University of Utah, Jess loves binge watching all the best shows with her laptop in one hand and balancing laundry/snacks in the other.
Karen Richman is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at DKC, a full-service public relations, digital communications and content production company and one of the top 10 independent PR agencies in the U.S.. In this role, she works directly with the firm’s president to oversee firm-wide strategy, day-to-day client service and internal operations. Karen has extensive experience managing marquee clients including Hello Bello, The Honest Company, Yahoo!, Gannett /USA TODAY, SELF Magazine, Marvel Entertainment, Delta Air Lines, American Greetings Properties and King Features Syndicate.
HBO PRESIDENT EMERITUS
Steve Scheffer served for decades as President of HBO’s Film Programming, Video and Enterprises, acquiring all the movies for HBO and Cinemax from the major studios and independent producers (including HBO financed theatrical productions), overseeing distribution of HBO original programming such as The SOPRANOS and SEX and the CITY and overseeing HBO’s home video operations. Previously, he held executive positions at Columbia Pictures, MGM, Allied Artists and Polydor Records.
LIVIT MEDIA FOUNDER
Adam Blazer co-founded JLTV in 2006 and served as its COO for 10 years. He built the network’s digital, cable, and satellite distribution and managed all traffic and programming teams. Blazer founded Livit Media in 2014, where he directs the development of dozens of digital video streaming platforms, and virtual and augmented reality technologies and experiences.
VANITY FAIR & ROLLING STONE Contributing Editor
A contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone, Rich Cohen is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Monsters; Sweet and Low; When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead (with Jerry Weintraub); The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones; Tough Jews; and The Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse.
MediaBridge Capital Advisors
Rob Levy has more than 20 years of experience in the media and entertainment industry. Over the last several years, Rob has played an instrumental role as a Senior Investment Banking Advisor on several noteworthy sell-side M&A engagements for MediaBridge Capital Advisors. Previously, he served in senior operational roles at Artist Management Group, Warner Brothers, and Untitled Entertainment. Rob was also President of InterMedia Entertainment and launched the branded entertainment division of Untitled Entertainment in 2007, running it successfully through 2012. Rob began his business career at the investment banking firm of Houlihan, Lokey, Howard & Zukin. He holds FINRA Series 79 and Series 63 licenses.
MEDIA & MARKETING EXECUTIVE, 21st CENTURY FOX, NBC, DISNEY
Rio Cyrus is a 20+ year global media and strategic marketing executive who has held senior level roles at 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Company. She has overseen the evolution of content distribution from transactional to subscription among leading global OTT, SVOD, Telco and MVPD platforms.
Entertainment FinanCE EXECUTIVE
Max Pinigin began his career in entertainment finance in corporate strategy at 21st Century Fox, before moving to equity research (where he covered diversified media and advertising). He then held senior finance roles at Fox International Channels and National Geographic (a division of Walt Disney Company).