×

Disney Pink-Slips 80 Employees at Maker Studios

Maker Studios is shrinking: Parent company Disney is laying off 80 staffers in a restructuring of its publishing and digital media division, which includes Maker.

Disney declined to reveal what portion of the group’s headcount that represents. Back in 2014, Maker Studios had about 380 employees after the Mouse House closed the deal for the company, ultimately paying $675 million. Word that Disney was preparing layoffs at Maker surfaced last week.

Maker last week dropped PewDiePie, the biggest star on YouTube, after a series of jokes on his channel revolving around anti-Semitic language and Nazi imagery. But multiple sources said the layoffs are entirely separate from the situation with PewDiePie (the Swedish-born vlogger whose real name is Felix Kjellberg) and had been the works well before Maker cut its ties to Kjellberg.

The latest cutbacks comes after Maker Studios was moved under the Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media (DCPI) group. Last December, Andrew Sugerman, executive VP of DCPI’s publishing and digital media unit, assumed oversight of Maker. At the time Courtney Holt, who had previously been running Maker, moved into a role at Disney corporate as executive VP of media and strategy.

Asked for comment, Disney provided a statement from Sugerman that did not directly address the layoffs. “We’re building a digital media network of Disney and non-Disney content for kids and millennials on the platforms they use every day,” Sugerman said in the statement. “For advertisers, this network offers mobile, video, short-form content, micro-content and influencers, all at scale.”

With the layoffs, a key strategic shift for Maker will be to pare back the number of individual creators it works with, according to sources familiar with the company. Under its multichannel network model, Maker once touted partnerships with 60,000 creators. Now, it’s going to drop that to less than 1,000 in order to focus efforts around the most popular talent, a source close to Maker said.

PewDiePie — with more than 53 million YouTube subscribers — had been No. 1 with a bullet for Maker, which maintained a team dedicated to his channel. Other top creators in Maker’s network include Bratayley, CaptainSparklez, Epic Rap Battles of History, EvanTubeHD, Game Grumps, Shay Carl, Strawburry17, the Gregory Brothers and Timothy DeLaGhetto.

The reorg also is part of Disney’s strategy to more tightly integrate its digital operations. Maker had previously operated largely as a standalone entity in Culver City, and some of the Maker layoffs were because of overlapping roles with DCPI’s publishing and digital media group in Glendale, Calif. However, Maker will continue to maintain office and studio space in Culver City.

Last summer, Maker laid off about 30 employees in what it called at the time a “strategic adjustment” of resources.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Gabrielle Carteris

    SAG-AFTRA Urges Gavin Newsom to Sign Law Punishing 'Deep Fake' Videos

    SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White is urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign legislation that institutes penalties for nonconsensual digital sexually explicit videos, also known as “deep fakes.” The legislation, Assembly Bill 602, targets companies and individuals who create and distribute the videos in California without the consent of the individual being depicted. “We urge Gov. [...]

  • Facebook Portal logo

    Facebook Is Launching a Portal TV Device: Here’s What We Know

    Facebook is getting ready to launch a TV streaming device in time for the holiday season, Variety has been able to confirm with multiple sources familiar with the company’s plans. The new streaming hardware will be part of the company’s Portal family of devices, featuring a camera, and combining video chatting with TV viewing and [...]

  • MoviePass card

    MoviePass Shuts Down, With Parent Company Citing Failure to Raise Funds

    MoviePass, the long-struggling theater subscription service, finally appears to be down for the count. On Friday, MoviePass notified remaining subscribers that it would be shutting down the service effective Sept. 14, 2019, because “its efforts to recapitalize MoviePass have not been successful to date,” parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics announced. “The company is continuing [...]

  • Disney Plus - Full Lineup

    How to Browse the Disney Plus Catalog the Company Is Testing in the Netherlands

    Disney began testing its Disney Plus streaming service in the Netherlands this week. Consumers in the U.S. will have to wait until November 12 to get access to the service, but European streaming aggregator JustWatch already makes it possible to browse the catalog available during this beta test. JustWatch is one of a number of [...]

  • JoJo Siwa'The Angry Birds Movie 2'

    Nickelodeon Star JoJo Siwa Gets Her Own Dance-Tour Mobile Game (EXCLUSIVE)

    Fans of JoJo Siwa will be able to join the teen influencer’s dance squad on stage — virtually — in a new mobile game. In “JoJo Siwa — Live to Dance,” players will become part of the Nickelodon and YouTube star’s worldwide tour on her professional dance team and experience what it’s like to be [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content