Maker Studios Braces for More Layoffs as Disney Plans to Shrink Creator Network


The Game Theorists
PewDiePie (pictured)
Smosh Games

The Disney-owned digital firm is expected to cut the size of its creator network to around 300 top creators.

Maker Studios is bracing for another round of layoffs, multiple sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

The Disney-owned digital network is set to undergo a round of cuts that sources describe as significant.

The layoffs come as Disney is expected to shrink the size of Maker's network of creators to around 300, in part by not renewing deals with some of its smaller partners. Instead, Maker is said to be reorienting its focus on only its top-tier online creators with large YouTube followings. The Maker website currently says that the company works with "thousands of creators."

One source cautions that Maker is not shutting down, even as it considers changes to its business.

Disney acquired Maker in 2014 for $500 million with the possibility of additional earn-outs. The final price tag for the digital media business was $675 million, much lower than the $950 million that it could have ballooned to if performance targets were met.

At the time of the sale, Disney was expected to largely leave Maker alone as it continued to operate as an independent division based out of Culver City. But in the subsequent two and a half years — following some layoffs and as several top executives have left the company — Disney has increasingly integrated Maker's business into its own. 

In December, Disney folded Maker into Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. The executive in charge of the business, Courtney Holt, stepped down from his role for a new position as vp media and strategy, reporting to Disney chief strategy officer Kevin Mayer.

The shrinking of Maker's creator network is expected to come as the company has just severed ties with its most high-profile star, PewDiePie, following a series of anti-Semitic comments on his YouTube channel. It's unclear how his departure from Maker's network will impact the company's new strategy of focusing on a smaller group of top-tier creators. 

Spokeswomen for Disney and Maker declined to comment.