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Danny Zappin’s Zealot Networks Buys Majority Stake in YouTube Licensing Firm AudioMicro

Zealot Networks, the digital-media studio formed by ex-Maker Studios CEO Danny Zappin, has acquired a majority stake in content-licensing company AudioMicro, whose brands include YouTube music-licensing business AdRev.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Zealot this summer raised $25 million from former Maker execs and talent. In 2013, Zappin resigned as CEO of Maker Studios after the MCN threatened to fire him; earlier this year, he unsuccessfully tried to block a shareholder vote on Disney’s $500 million-plus acquisition of the YouTube multichannel network he co-founded.

AudioMicro’s AdRev operates platforms for the distribution, licensing, monetization and administration of music, videos and photos. It recently acquired DashGo, which provides a service to let music labels and publishers distribute, promote, market and license music across digital retailers, subscription services and Internet radio. According to AdRev, it pays out more than $10 million per year in royalties to partners.

“AdRev has created a whole new model for monetizing music, video and photo rights and will support Zealot as part of an infrastructure for managing a multi-vertical, multiplatform network on YouTube and beyond,” Zappin, Zealot’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

AdRev founder and CEO Ryan Born added, “Partnering with Danny, an industry pioneer with vision and proven execution, means further expansion and growth for our company.”

Investors in AudioMicro, founded in 2007, have included DFJ Frontier and Fotolia, a stock-photo service that Adobe Systems acquired last week for $800 million in cash. According to Born, both investors retain ownership positions in the company. AudioMicro, based in Sherman Oaks, Calif., currently has 25 employees.

Under the deal, Zappin is joining AdRev’s board of directors. Born will continue as AdRev CEO running day-to-day operations. DH Capital served as adviser in the deal.

Venice, Calif.-based Zealot Networks has not fully explained what it’s up to. The company describes itself as “a digital-first media company and growth accelerator that empowers creative entrepreneurs and talent, delivering multiplatform revenue, distribution and growth opportunities.”

In addition to Zappin, Zealot’s management team includes CFO Bob Vanech; chief strategy officer Conn Fishburn, a former Yahoo exec and previously CEO of consulting firm F3 Ideas; and chief marketing officer Chad Seymour, former CEO of marketing firm Neighbor Agency.

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