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Former Maker Studios CEO Danny Zappin is returning to the YouTube space with a new startup and $25 million in funding.
His latest venture, Zealot, is billed as a digital media company and growth accelerator that will work with creators and talent to find multiplatform revenue streams and distribution. Los Angeles-based Zealot announced Monday that it has raised its first round of funding from investors, which includes Zappin and more than 15 former and current Maker employees, talent and management.
“With Zealot, I’m pursuing my greater vision of empowering creative individuals with a new focus on entrepreneurs, distribution and emerging platforms,” Zappin said. “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 co-founded Maker in 2009 and acted as CEO until he resigned in April 2013. He has been embroiled in a lawsuit with Maker over the transition of leadership to current CEO Ynon Kreiz.
In April, he attempted to block Disney’s up to $950 million acquisition of Maker, filing a restraining order to delay a vote on the sale. Zappin, who remained a large shareholder in the company despite his ouster, argued that Maker executives “issued stock to one another, accelerated vesting of other stock and entered into a series of agreements with one another using Maker Studio Inc.’s assets so they could wrest control of Maker’s board for Maker’s Common Stock shareholders in order to create a liquidity event for themselves.”
Maker responded saying that the lawsuit had already been approved and a judge denied his motion. Disney’s acquisition of the YouTube multichannel network closed in May.
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