×

Danny Zappin, Ousted CEO of Maker Studios, Raises $25 Million to Launch Digital Studio

Danny Zappin, who was fired as CEO of Maker Studios and unsuccessfully tried to block a shareholder vote on Disney’s acquisition of the multichannel network he co-founded, has raised $25 million from ex-Maker execs and talent to create digital studio Zealot Networks.

The startup’s investors include Zappin along with more than 15 former and current Maker Studios employees, talent and executives, according to Zappin. The funding will support operations, acquisitions and investments. Zealot will be based in Venice, Calif.

At this point, Zealot and Zappin are offering scant details of what it’s up to. The company said it’s focused on creators, with a strategy that “empowers creative entrepreneurs and talent, delivering multiplatform revenue, distribution and growth opportunities.”

“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,” Zappin, who is president and CEO of the startup, said in a statement.

A rep said Zappin was unavailable for an interview, and declined to provide additional information including the identities of the investors. A “zealot” is “a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their ideals,” the startup’s website notes.

Disney completed its acquisition of Maker Studios, in a deal worth up to $950 million, earlier this year. Zappin and three other former Maker execs filed a lawsuit seeking to block a shareholder vote on the Disney deal, which a California court rejected. That came after the foursome’s suit last summer alleging breach of contract and fraud over Zappin’s “ousting” as chief executive.

According to Zappin and his allies, Maker Studios’ board members and officers “illegally issued shares to themselves and diluted the common stock for their own financial gain to the detriment of other Maker shareholders.” In an April court filing responding to the Zappin-led suit, Maker Studios said the claims were “patently meritless” and that the litigation was “a reckless attempt, based on a quixotic personal vendetta, to throw sand in the gears of the (Disney) merger and endanger the interests of all Maker’s shareholders.”

More Digital

  • NBC News - Quibi

    NBC News to Produce Two Daily Shows for Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Quibi

    NBC News has joined Quibi’s ambitious bid to build a mobile subscription TV service. NBCUniversal’s news division plans to build a custom set at 30 Rock where it will produce daily morning and evening newscasts, seven days per week, for Quibi, the well-funded mobile video startup from chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman. The [...]

  • patreon logo

    Patreon Raises $60 Million in New Funding

    Membership services startup Patreon just got a major cash infusion: The company announced Tuesday that it has raised a $60 million Series D round of funding led by Glade Brook Capital. Existing investors Thrive Capital, Initialized, Index Ventures, DFJ, Freestyle Capital, Charles River Ventures and Otherwise participated in the funding round as well, which brings [...]

  • Picture shows: MAKING OF - Underwater

    Netflix Orders 'Oceans' Natural History Series From 'Blue Planet II' Creator

    Netflix has ordered a multi-part natural history series on the world’s oceans from Freeborne Media, the production outfit of acclaimed natural-history producer James Honeyborne, who created “Blue Planet II.” Each of the series’ episodes will focus on a different ocean, “combining the disciplines of oceanography, geography and earth sciences to experience these characteristics in new [...]

  • Netflix-logo-N-icon

    Netflix Adds Five Original Series to India Slate

    Streaming giant Netflix has added five originals across genres to its India series slate. “Bombay Begums”, created, written and directed by Alankrita Shrivastava (“Lipstick Under My Burkha”), will follow the varied journeys of five women who bond in contemporary urban India. The series is executive produced by Chernin Entertainment (“The Greatest Showman”) and EndemolShine India [...]

  • Spotify logo is presented on a

    U.S. Consumers to Spend $26 Billion on Music, Video Subscriptions This Year

    U.S. consumers are expected to spend a combined $26 billion on music and video subscription services this year, according to new estimates from the Consumer Technology Association. That’s up from $20.4 billion in 2018, and nearly twice the amount spent on such services in 2017. Propelled by the continued success of Apple Music and Spotify, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content