×

Maker Studios Founder Danny Zappin Sues Company Over ‘Ouster’

Former CEO alleges breach of contract and fraud, after executive chairman Ynon Kreiz took over top role

Maker Studios co-founder Daniel Zappin and three founding execs are suing the YouTube multichannel network provider, alleging breach of contract and fraud in “ousting” him as chief executive.

Maker Studios said in a statement, “The lawsuit is without merit and the allegations are baseless. We regret that Danny is taking this step and involving the company he co-founded in litigation.”

In May, Maker Studios announced that chairman Ynon Kreiz would become executive chairman effective immediately, with Zappin  stepping out of the top role to become a special adviser to Kreiz.

Time Warner took a stake in Maker last December, leading a round of investment worth $36 million.

In the lawsuit, Zappin and three other plaintiffs — Scott Katz, Derek Jones and Will Watkin —  are claiming concealment of secrets, breach of fiduciary duty and constructive fraud.  According to the suit, Maker Studio’s new board diluted the common stock in favor of preferred stock, including to regulate the common stock to minority status, for the purpose of electing director seats and “ousting Zappin as Maker CEO.”

Maker Studios and other defendants “conspired and agreed to use their power to line their pockets with Maker’s assets, to deny Mr. Zappin, Maker’s then chief executive officer (‘CEO’), of all of his powers, and to gut the rights of common stock shareholders to control Maker and its corporate activities,” according to the lawsuit.

Popular on Variety

Zappin and the other three are requesting a temporary restraining order, a constructive trust over Maker Studios and removal of the current board of directors. In addition, the lawsuit seeks unspecific monetary damages.

Defendants named in the suit are Kreiz, Ben Donovan, Lisa Donovan, Mark Suster, Dana Settle, Rachel Lam, Michael DiSanto, GRP Partners, Mida Holdings California and Angulo Investors, and names corporate nominal defendant Maker Studios.

Zappin, in a statement provided by Maker Studios when it announced the change in his status last month, said: “I recognize that as we enter into our next phase of growth, we need additional leadership. After a year of working together closely I feel confident that Ynon is the right person to take Maker to next level. He has the rare combination of having worked with great talent and having scaled large media companies.”

SEE ALSO: Maker Studios Puts Ex-Endemol CEO Kreiz in Charge, as Founder Steps Aside

More Digital

  • NOBODY’S LOOKING

    Daniel Rezende on Netflix Brazilian Series ‘Nobody’s Looking’

    Having premiered on Netflix Nov. 22, “Nobody’s Looking” marks the first collaboration between Gullane and Netflix – their second, “Boca a Boca” is in development- and comes from a long list of new projects that the streaming giant has announced with it’s $87 Million investment in Brazilian content. The series embodies the streaming platform’s push [...]

  • Sunil Doshi

    ATF: Sunil Doshi Launches Content Development Platform All Things Small (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sunil Doshi, whose company Alliance Media & Entertainment produced 2017 Tokyo film festival title “Bioscopewala” and distributed Jafar Panahi’s 2018 film “3 Faces” in India, has launched a new content development platform at the ongoing Asian TV Forum & Market in Singapore. The Mumbai-based All Things Small (ATS) is founded by Doshi, journalists Sidin Vadukut, [...]

  • YouTube-Rewind-2019

    YouTube Rewind 2019 Scraps Old Format After Last Year's Torrent of Dislikes

    YouTube has taken a brand-new approach with this year’s YouTube Rewind mashup video — dropping its tradition of highly produced original videos segments. Instead, the 2019 version is a montage of what the platform says were the biggest moments and milestones from around the world on YouTube. The move came after the 2018 YouTube Rewind [...]

  • PewDiePie

    PewDiePie Is the Most-Watched YouTube Creator of 2019 With 4 Billion Views

    PewDiePie’s Bro Army remains stronger than ever: The top YouTuber is the most-viewed creator of 2019 on the platform year-to-date, with more than 4 billion views this year, according to YouTube. The comedian, game vlogger and meme aficionado, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, is also the most-subscribed individual YouTube creator, currently with 102 million [...]

  • Variety Summit Examines Streaming Options and

    Variety Summit Examines Streaming Options and Innovation

    Analytics, monetization and the expanding landscape of entertainment will be the focus of Variety’s Innovate Summit: Discovery & Data Science in Media on Dec. 5 in West Hollywood. The event is presented by PwC. The summit will feature 32 speakers, each considered industry leaders in the emerging world of streaming. Each panel will speak to [...]

  • Talas World Xandra

    Amazon Alexa Gets First Interactive Audio Original, Courtesy of Xandra (EXCLUSIVE)

    First there was “Bandersnatch,” now there is “Tala’s World.” Interactive media is making the jump to smart speakers, starting with a new serialized young adult adventure series produced by audio startup Xandra, and licensed exclusively by Amazon. “Tala’s World” consists of seven episodes, which invite listeners to come along on an audio adventure that involves [...]

  • Billie Eilish Dazzles Crowd With Intimate

    Billie Eilish Dazzles Crowd With Intimate Acoustic Set at Apple Headquarters

    “This is really insane. Nothing like this has ever been done on this stage.” Billie Eilish was addressing the packed crowd midway through her set at the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park in California’s Silicon Valley, marking the first time an artist has given a public concert at the iconic home to Apple’s keynote [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content