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Maker Studios CEO Ynon Kreiz to Exit; Courtney Holt Upped

Ynon Kreiz, CEO of Disney-owned Maker Studios, is stepping down as of Jan. 11, and will be replaced by second-in-command Courtney Holt, who will become executive VP and head of the company.

The exit was widely anticipated as the digital content network approaches the end of the so-called “earn out” period in which execs at the company at the time it was purchased by Disney in May 2014 stood to collect additional dollars based on hitting specific performance-based targets.

While Kreiz has been credited for driving the deal that saw Disney snap up Maker for $500 million in addition to a potential $450 million based on those targets, day-to-day operations has been more the focus for Holt, who came on as COO in 2011 but became chief strategy officer last year. Prior to Maker, Holt has held senior roles at MySpace Music, News Corp., MTV Networks and Sony BMG.

Kreiz joined the Maker board as chairman in May 2012. Previously, he was chairman and CEO of global TV and digital production company Endemol from May 2008 until he left in June 2011 over a dispute about the company’s strategic direction.

Prior to Endemol, Kreiz was general partner at Balderton Capital (formerly Benchmark Capital Europe) also co-founded Fox Kids Europe, where he was chairman and CEO.

Maker has seen its share of turbulence in its management ranks this year amid speculation the company would not maximize their earn-out targets. In August, chief content officer Erin McPherson exited, as did head of marketing Jeremy Welt.

Kreiz presided over a period of strong growth for Maker, which as of October is the highest ranked among a category Comscore refers to as its “YouTube partner channels,” with 47.5 million unique viewers–ahead of the likes of UMG, Vevo and Machinima. Maker’s ability to corral massive amounts of young-skewing eyeballs worldwide was a big reason Disney acquired the company, which has been used as a promotional platform for all sorts of the conglom’s properties including the upcoming “Star Wars” release.

As much as 10% of Maker video inventory is devoted to Disney-related intellectual property, a number that will likely grow significantly in the coming years.

Beyond marketing Disney assets and sponging up ad revenue, Maker has also explored many alternative distribution strategies beyond YouTube, including movies and Verizon’s Go90 platform.

While Maker previously reported into then-Disney COO Jay Rasulo, Maker has since moved under the aegis of Jimmy Pitaro, co-president of Disney Interactive.

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