Maker Studios Completes Blip Acquisition

In a deal that could herald a wave of consolidation in the online video biz, YouTube multichannel network company Maker Studios on Friday officially announced the acquisition of digital media firm Blip.

Word of the deal leaked two weeks ago after Maker inked an agreement in principle to acquire Blip. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Maker Studios, one of the largest YouTube MCNs delivering more than 4 billion views monthly, said it will gain key technology assets and partnership deals with Blip.

With the acquisition, Maker said it will incorporate: Blip’s technology platforms for online video distribution through Blip.com and partnerships with YouTube, Yahoo, AOL and Virgin America; Blip’s proprietary web and mobile technology, including apps for Xbox, Roku, Apple iOS, Android and Kindle devices; and Blip’s channel partnerships and premium content.

Blip CEO Kelly Day will remain with Maker as an advisor, according to the company. Blip execs joining Maker include Max Smith, who will become Maker’s chief financial officer; Jason Krebs, who will lead sales efforts for Maker overall; and Jeff O’Connell, who will join as senior VP of technology.

“Blip’s content partnerships and technology platforms are a great complement to Maker,” Ynon Kreiz, exec chairman of Maker Studios, said in announcing the deal. “We will leverage these strategic parts of the business to supplement our offering, helping us continue to accelerate our growth. We are happy to welcome the Blip team to the Maker family.”

Maker is seeking scale with the Blip deal, to expand distribution and advertising reach. Maker’s 60,000-plus channels garnered 28.6 million unique visitors and served 530.7 million videos in July 2013, according to comScore. One of Maker’s channels is PewDiePie, Swedish videogamer Felix Kjellberg, which is now the most-subscribed channel on YouTube.

Day commented, “We have long admired the success of Maker, and we think this is a great fit for Blip. For our production partners, this represents a great opportunity to tap into Maker’s unparalleled resources. For our advertisers, this combination represents a unique offering in the market of highly engaging branded content and custom creative, with massive scale and reach across multiple platforms.”

New York-based Blip, which had about 50 employees, is backed by Bain Capital Ventures, Canaan Partners, Ambient Sound Investments and individual angel investors.

Maker Studios, which has about 340 employees, is based in Culver City, Calif. The company has raised about $44 million to date. Investors include Time Warner Inc.; Greycroft Partners; Robert Downey Jr.; Elisabeth Murdoch; FUEL: M+C, the investment company for Jon Miller and Jimmy Yaffe; Maker chairman Ynon Kreiz; Daher Capital; and Lightstorm’s Jon Landau.

In May, Maker Studios announced that Kreiz would replace co-founder and CEO Danny Zappin, who was to become a special adviser to Kreiz. Subsequently Zappin and three other Maker execs sued the company, alleging breach of contract and fraud. Maker Studios has said the lawsuit is “without merit and the allegations are baseless.”

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  1. From a platform perspective, I’m most interested in how Maker may seek to add engagement features to Blip, like integrated commenting or viewcount. Maker’s best creators are great at engagement, so it will be interesting to see what features the creators ask for. But I don’t think Maker will ever get their creators entirely off of YouTube – the opportunity for viewer engagement there is just too great. Rather, this will be an additional overlay onto the primary YouTube audience where Maker can charge a little higher CPM and a place to further grow direct viewer communication via email updates.

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