Danny Zappin

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Danny Zappin
Danny Zappin 2015.jpg
Born 1975 (age 42–43)
Columbus, Ohio, U.S.
Residence Venice, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater Ohio State University
Occupation Co-founder & CEO,
Maker Studios
(2009-13)
Founder, president & CEO,
Zealot Networks
(2014-present)
Years active 2004–present
Website zealotnetworks.com

Danny Zappin (born 1975)[1] is an American businessman. He is the co-founder of Maker Studios, and the founder, president and CEO of Zealot Networks.

Early life and education[edit]

Zappin was born in Columbus, Ohio.[1] His mother ran a Christian heavy-metal record label.[1] His brother is hip hop artist John Reuben.[2] He spent a few quarters at Ohio State University before moving to Florida. In the mid-1990s, he moved to New York, and then to Los Angeles to pursue a career as an actor.[1] He had a small role in the 1999 Spike Lee film Summer of Sam.[3] At some point in 2000, Zapplin was convicted of a felony drug possession charge.[4]

Career[edit]

Online video beginnings[edit]

Zappin began creating videos for the Internet in the early 2000s, while working for CrapTV, an early online video streaming website.[5] Surfing the Web in mid-2005, he happened upon YouTube, which was then just months old. Zappin was struck by the large number of actors and creators trying to break through on the site, and the fact that anyone could upload videos without needing to go through a Hollywood-like system. He began uploading videos himself, under the name Danny Diamond, and quickly gained a following. Along with several other YouTube content creators, he came up with the idea to sign online talent and create a digital studio for YouTube.[1][3]

Maker Studios[edit]

In 2009, Zappin co-founded the YouTube multichannel network and online video producer Maker Studios, serving as its CEO until his resignation in April 2013.[1][6][7] Founded in Venice, California, Maker was one of the first content providers on YouTube to reach 1 million views.[1] By the end of 2012, Maker was one of the top five networks on YouTube, with over 2 billion views per month, according to comScore.[8] The idea behind Maker was to create a new type of studio model, a collaborative, creator-friendly multichannel network helping to boost views and better monetize online short-form content.[8][9] Zappin is considered to be one of the first to recognize the platform's potential for new types of content and talent.[6]

Zappin's legal immigration history came up in the midst of a 2012 dispute between Maker Studios and YouTube celebrity Ray William Johnson over the terms of a new contract.[8][10] In 2001, Zappin was convicted of felony drug possession for smuggling Ecstasy. He was sentenced to two years in prison, and released to home confinement in 2004.[1]

In June 2013, two months after his resignation, Zappin sued Maker Studios' partners and investors, alleging there was a conspiracy to oust him from the board.[8][11] Along with three other former Maker executives, he sued Maker for a second time in April 2014, to block a shareholder vote on the acquisition of the company by the Walt Disney Company, shortly after the studio agreed to purchase Maker in a deal worth up to $950 million.[11] The lawsuit was rejected by a California judge and the sale went through.[12] Zappin earned $25 million in the sale.[13]

On October 17, 2013, Zappin announced that he had acquired digital entertainment news website NewMediaRockstars, intending to broaden its coverage of new media.[1][14]

Zealot Networks[edit]

In the summer of 2014, Zappin raised $25 million from former and current Maker employees, talent and executives, along with his own money, to form Zealot Networks.[6] In an August 2014 press release, Zappin announced the launch of his new digital media company, "a digital-first media company and growth accelerator."[6][11] By the end of the year, Zealot had raised additional capital from UK broadcaster ITV, the largest commercial television network in the UK.[15] Zealot is based in Venice, California,[16] with Zappin serving as the company's president and CEO.[13]

Zappin has stated that the company is a continuation of his work with content creators at multi-channel network Maker Studios. Rather than focusing solely on YouTube talent, Zealot is a multi-company network, made up of a variety of interconnected digital media companies with different areas of expertise working together in an effort to accelerate their collective growth.[17][18]

By November 2016, the company had raised $26.5 million in venture capital and an additional $30 million in debt financing. It used that money to buy 17 other content generating companies with a combination of cash and equity, including ViralNova for $100 million in 2015.[19] Other acquisitions had included a majority stake in content-licensing company AudioMicro, the parent company AdRev in December 2014 for approximately $20 million,[20][21] Premier Sports & Entertainment in January 2015,[22] Converge Media Group and Neighbor Agency and Idea Farmer in February 2015,[23][24][25] Threshold Interactive in March 2015,[26] and in May 2015, Lord Danger and Hutch Media.[27][28]

By the end of 2016 the company was in financial trouble, and had asked its executives to forgo being paid and a team of current and former executives offered to buy Zappin out.[19] Zealot's website went down in November 2016.[29]

  • In April 2017 BumpClick, which had at some point acquired ViralNova from Zealot, was sold to Function(x) for $25M.[30][31]
  • In January 2018 AVL Digital Group acquired AudioMicro and its AdRev and DashGo divisions from an unnamed party for an unnamed price.[32]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Eriq Gardner, “Maker Studios Lawsuit: Inside the War for YouTube’s Top Studio,” The Hollywood Reporter, October 24, 2013.
  2. ^ Justin Sarachik, “John Reuben has Enough Songs for a New Album,” Rapzilla, March 24, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Jeff Klima, “A Timeline: Former Maker Head Danny Zappin Sues Ex-Girlfriend Lisa Nova – Where Did the Love Go?” NewMediaRockstars, June 28, 2013.
  4. ^ Joshua Cohen (December 12, 2012). "Maker Studios CEO Sends Letter to Employees, Addresses Past and Ray William Johnson". TubeFilter. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  5. ^ “Danny Zappin,” Social Media Week, May 1, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d Mike Shields, “Ex Maker Studios CEO Danny Zappin Raises Funding For New Web Video Venture,” Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2014.
  7. ^ John Kell, “Maker Studios Ex-CEO Seeks to Block Takeover by Disney,” Wall Street Journal, April 10, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d Ryan Lawler, "Maker Studios Co-Founder Danny Zappin Sues The Company Over His Ouster," TechCrunch, June 26, 2013.
  9. ^ David Zax, “A YouTube Studio Borrows the Old Hollywood System to Make Big Hits,” Fast Company, June 11, 2012.
  10. ^ Peter Kafka, “YouTube Powerhouse Maker Studios Fights With Its Biggest Star. It’s Not Pretty.” All Things Digital, December 12, 2012.
  11. ^ a b c Saba Hamedy, “Ex-Maker Studios CEO launches digital media company,” Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2014.
  12. ^ Brooks Barnes, “Bid to Upend Disney’s Deal for Maker Studios Falls Short,” New York Times, April 14, 2014.
  13. ^ a b Nicole Laporte, “Maker Studios’ Former CEO Takes Disney’s Millions to Move Beyond YouTube,” Fast Company, August 4, 2014.
  14. ^ Todd Spangler, “Maker Studios Founder Danny Zappin Buys Website NewMediaRockstars,” Variety, October 17, 2013.
  15. ^ Melissah Yang, “Zealot Networks Valued at $100 Million,” Los Angeles Business Journal, December 22, 2014.
  16. ^ Natalie Jarvey, “Danny Zappin’s Zealot Heads to Venice,” The Hollywood Reporter, September 17, 2014.
  17. ^ Evan DeSimone, “Danny Zappin Goes Beyond the MCN With Zealot,” NewMediaRockstars, August 4, 2014.
  18. ^ Natalie Jarvey, “Zealot Networks Acquires J.B. Smoove’s Converge Media Group,” The Hollywood Reporter, February 5, 2015.
  19. ^ a b Reim, Garrett (11 November 2016). "After Financial Problems, Bid Underway to Acquire Zealot Networks & Remove Danny Zappin as CEO". Los Angeles Business Journal. 
  20. ^ Todd Spangler, “Danny Zappin, Ousted CEO of Maker Studios, Raises $25 Million to Launch Digital Studio,” Variety, August 4, 2014.
  21. ^ Peter Kafka, “Maker Studios Founder Danny Zappin Is Back in Business and Buying Companies. Here’s His First Deal.” Re/code, December 18, 2014.
  22. ^ Melissah Yang, “Zealot Networks Acquires Premier Sports & Entertainment,” Los Angeles Business Journal, January 8, 2015.
  23. ^ Todd Spangler, “Danny Zappin’s Zealot Networks Buys Converge Media Group Talent Agency From JB Smoove and Others,” Variety, February 5, 2015.
  24. ^ Natalie Jarvey, “Zealot Networks Acquires J.B. Smoove’s Converge Media Group,” The Hollywood Reporter, February 5, 2015.
  25. ^ Omar Shamout, “Zealot Networks Buys Two Creative Marketing Companies,” Los Angeles Business Journal, February 17, 2015.
  26. ^ Tim Peterson, “Zealot Networks Buys Threshold Interactive, Its Third Ad Agency,” Ad Age, March 12, 2015.
  27. ^ Sahil Patel, “Zealot Networks Buys Music-Video Production Company Lord Danger,” Video Ink, May 12, 2015.
  28. ^ Garrett Reim, “Zealot Buys Small Publisher, Hints at Future,” Los Angeles Business Journal, May 18, 2015.
  29. ^ "Wayback Machine entry for Zealot". Retrieved 11 June 2018. 
  30. ^ "Sillerman's Function(x) on clickbait buying spree". IQ Magazine. 3 April 2017. 
  31. ^ "Press release: Function(x) and BumpClick Amend Terms of Binding Term Sheet To Eliminate Cash Payment at Closing". Function(x). May 11, 2017. Archived from the original on July 29, 2017. 
  32. ^ "Press release: AVL Digital Group acquires AudioMicro, AdRev, and DashGo". AVL Digital Group via Radio and Music. 10 Jan 2018.