Well, this is embarrassing. Maker Studios just delivered its first earnings report to their new overlords at The Walt Disney Company and it’s fallen well short of expectations.
You may remember that when Disney acquired the multi-channel network for $500 million last year, the deal also included two additional earn-out payments based on the company meeting certain “strong performance targets.” One of up to $200 million based on Maker’s performance in 2014. And a second worth up to $250 million based on their performance in 2015. So, $450 million in total.
Well, it looks like Maker failed to hit the mark on their financial performance in 2014. After what Re/Code called “months of wrangling,” Disney has agreed to pay Maker’s former shareholders a total of $105 million as their 2014 earn-out. While that’s clearly a lot of money, it’s still half of the $200 million they would have earned if they hit their target, and $93 million less than the amount of cash Disney originally reserved for the payout.
While this may seem like trivial news, the fact that Maker missed their first set of performance targets is a big deal. Especially since Maker’s shareholders appeared certain they’d receive most if not all the extra $450 million on the table.
Disney CEO Bob Iger will likely have some explaining to do in the company’s next earnings call. Particularly now that the other recent MCN acquisitions suggest that Maker’s valuation was far too high. It also casts some doubt over Maker’s ability to both adapt to the continuing industry-wide decrease in ‘per-view’ revenue, and continue to run as a sustainable business for the foreseeable future
While Maker’s shareholders dry their tears with $100 bills over this news, they will have another opportunity to earn up to $250 million in their next payout when Disney reviews their performance for 2015. It’s difficult to speculate exactly how much they will get in their next payment, but Maker appears to be taking steps to improve their chances at getting close to the full amount this time around.
Yesterday, Maker and their chief content officer Erin McPherson “mutually agreed” that it would be best if she left the company (read: fired). Maker’s head of marketing Jeremy Welt also left the company under similar circumstances.
Maker has also continued to invest heavily in their new content platform Maker.TV. If you want to help Maker hit their next performance target, watch the Maker.TV video below featuring comedians Key & Peele: