Maker sibling co-founders exit

Disney-Maker-Studios-140x95Lisa and Ben Donovan, the siblings that co-founded multichannel network Maker Studios, have exited the company.

None of the original founders are now with the company following their exits. The other co-founder, former CEO Danny Zappin, left last year, and has now launched a new content company, Zealot Networks.

Maker currently has around 380 million subscribers for its networks, which primarily operate through YouTube. It gets around 5.5 billion YouTube video views, making it one of the largest MCNs in operation..

The Donovans have remained with Maker throughout its sales to The Walt Disney Company, which is set to pay close to US$950 million (€708 million) for the company over a number of years.

However, they have now left the business, Maker confirmed in a statement following a report from new media website Re/code. “They will always be an important part of the Maker family. We are forever grateful for their pioneering vision in founding the company five years ago that has since become the world’s leading provider of online video content for millennials.”

Zappin, meanwhile, is currently suing Maker executives, including both Donovans. He claims they worked to dilute his shareholding and force his exit from the business, which he co-founded with the Donovans, Scott Katz, Philip DeFranco, Kassem Gharaibeh and Shay Carl in 2007.

Zappin’s new business, Zealot, launched this month after a US$25 million funding round raise. Zappin and more than 15 former and current Maker Studios employees, talent and management were among the investors, according to press materials released last week.

Zealot is billed as a “digital-first media company and growth accelerator” for creative entrepreneurs and talent. It will seek to deliver multi-platform revenues, distribution and growth “growth opportunities” by utilising a “sizeable war chest”.

Zappin, who is president and CEO, described its creation as a “natural extension” of his vision for Maker. “We’re operating in multiple passion-based verticals, building zealous audiences and providing services for companies, brands and talent across multiple platforms to help them realize their business visions and creative passions,” he said.