YouTube network Maker Studios has raised $26 Million in its latest funding round.
The new investments, which comprise the second and final part of the company’s Series C funding round, are aimed at supporting the company’s growth outside of the U.S., with significant investment coming from the likes of French Media conglomerate Canal Plus and Singaporean telecoms company Singtel.
This final tranche of Maker’s Series C brings the total investment in this round to $62 Million, meaning a total of $70 Million has been invested in Maker since its inception in 2009.
News of the investment comes hot on the heels of Maker’s acquisition of Blip, an early online video distribution websites that started the same year as YouTube, 2005. The acquisition gives Maker control of the Blip.tv online portal, alongside access to Blip’s unique content distribution and monetization technologies.
Information provided by insiders on the Blip deal suggest the website was sold for less than $10 Million in Maker stock, with options for an additional cash payment based on Maker’s performance in the coming years. These cash payments are widely believed to be significant, so part of the new funding will likely go towards underwriting these payments if they become payable.
With Maker’s continued focus on ‘Owned and Operated’ content (content they own outright), the Blip deal opens up new opportunities for Maker to distribute and monetize their content across multiple platforms while providing a new portal to showcase top Maker talent. Also, while Maker is still likely to continue its focus on YouTube, the deal also provides a means for Maker to bypass the significant cut Google take from revenue generated on the YouTube Platform. However, it will also likely lead to an awkward situation with Ray William Johnson; who, after a highly publicized contract dispute, left Maker Studios with a wake of negative publicity. Johnson inked a production deal with Blip in May 2013, shortly after leaving Maker.
In a statement announcing the closure of the funding round, Maker’s Executive Chairman Ynon Kreiz said: “Our objective was to expand our investor base to include major players in key international markets. The new funding will allow us to further expand our team and executive talent globally, extend our technology offerings for content creators and brand partners, and establish our local footprint around the world.”
More than half of Maker’s unique viewers already live outside of the U.S., leaving the company with a solid platform to grow its international audience further. Maker has long experimented with multi-language content, making it a leading network in both Russia and Mexico, where most of its competitors have only a small footprint.
Other major investors in Maker Studios include Time Warner Ventures, Greycroft Partners, Upfront Ventures, Daher Capital, Lakestar, and Northgate Capital. Maker’s recently hired executive chairman Ynon Kreiz, who was brought in to replace their ousted founding CEO Danny Zappin, also holds a significant investment in the company.
Maker Studios, based in Culver City, CA is currently the second-largest Multi-Channel YouTube Network by unique viewers. The company represents thousands of channels, including ‘Epic Rap Battles of History,’ Toby Turner’s ‘Tobuscus,’ and Snoop Dogg’s ‘WestFestTV.’ Maker also represents the No. 1 Most Subscribed YouTube Channel ‘PewDiePie,’ which has over 13 Million subscribers, 1,400 videos, and 2.4 Billion views to date.