Saturday, May 11, 2013

Maker Studios Swap Out CEO Danny Zappin, Ynon Kreiz Steps In

Maker Studios announced some changes at the top with Danny Zappin (aka Danny Diamond) leaving his CEO job and being replaced by Ynon Kreiz, who lends a more experienced hand to the rapidly growing company. Zappin has been at the helm of Maker since it morphed out of the partnership of Youtubers who joined up for The Station and became one of the largest of the Youtube networks that emerged lately. Kreiz joined Maker Studios as chairman in early 2012, leaving Endemol while the company was restructuring its debtload. Endemol has since been purchased by Apollo Global Management (a private equity company) and a Dutch company named Cyrte. Kreiz takes over the same job titles of Chairman & CEO at Maker Studios that he had at Endemol.

Below is a video (posted by mipmarkets) of Ynon Kreiz from early 2010 when he was chairman & CEO Endemol. Although he is primarily discussing television, you can see he is also looking at online content. Kreiz joined Maker shortly after the network received $36 million in funding from Time Warner among others including Kreiz who joined as an investor.

Kreiz does look and sound the part of a strong corporate manager and will likely bring a capable style as Maker continues to grow, although he is a change from the group of Youtubers who started the company in 2009. In the video below, Zappin and longtime Youtuber Lisa Donovan (aka Lisa Nova) discuss Maker Studios. Maker emerged from "The Station", a Youtube channel that brought together several top content creators on the website (such as Phil DeFranco, Shane Dawson, DaveDays, ShayCarl, KassemG, thebdonski, Rawn and others) but several of them ended up leaving the channel to concentrate on their own content. After huge expectations for The Station, the channel has pretty much stopped posting Youtube videos on that channel.

What does the future hold for Maker Studios? Although Zappin leaves the main job at Maker, he continues to be on the board of Maker Studios and will be an "advisor" to Kreiz, it looks like the company will be guided by Kreiz as Maker continues to expand.


  1. On a side note, just days after Kreiz took over at Maker Studios there was an announcement that 70 of the 350 employees were being fired. My guess is that the layoffs were planned well before Zappin stepped down and rather than going out on a sour note, the firings were announced as one of the first things done by the new regime.
    Unsure who was let go, but it was likely not the on technical, ad sales side and likely a large number of old youtubers who worked behind the scenes and owed any position there through personal relationships or friendships with those who had been in charge. More than likely those positions, if they end up being refilled, will be chosen so the people hired will owe their allegiance to the new bosses rather than to the previous bosses.
    Of course, maybe I'm over-reading the layoffs, but it seems like another attempt by the new bosses to put their own stamp on the company.

  2. Another good article about Kreiz taking the reins at Maker that you might want to take a look at is "Why Online Video Just Took One More Big Step to Legitimacy" at which was written by Mark Suster

  3. Now there's word that the layoffs at Maker are "about 35" positions rather than the original 70 although some mention that the number being shown the door may hit as many as 100 down the line which is a big chunk of the company's previous number of employees. Some of those who have be let go have received a couple of weeks pay as severance with a nondisclosure notice tucked into their pockets as a reminder not to discuss the company.
    At the same time Maker is looking for an experienced "Public Relations Director" to try to put positive spin on the message getting out. Just the new people in charge trying to flex their muscle a bit, and showing that there's a new sheriff in town. Still leaves a bit of a bad taste in your mouth, but hopefully they turn this thing around - and hopefully those now out grab some work fairly quickly.

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