Maker Studios‘ sale to Disney made some people very rich, but at least one of the company’s former employees does not believe he has been fairly compensated. Will Watkins, who came to Maker Studios early on and helped build the company into a prosperous YouTube network, has launched a suit in which he claims to be owed up to $19 million in stock and deferred payment.
Watkins’ lawsuit, as reported by TheWrap, alleges that he agreed to take most of his payment in company stock when he joined Maker during its 2009 formation. It then claims that a change in Maker’s policy caused it to begin treating his compensation as a loan of sorts.
In 2013, when Watkins expressed interest in cashing out his shares, “[Ex-Maker CEO Danny] Zappin and [Maker co-founder Ben] Donovan’s mood visibly shifted. Donovan guardedly said that he would forward Zappin a copy of the written documentation (which Plaintiff never received).” As a result, Watkins believes to be owed $126,000 in deferred salary, and up to $19 million in stock.
Watkins was a “showrunner” for Maker Studios who worked on the network’s early productions. Upon joining the company, he “embarked upon building Maker Studios into the media powerhouse it is today,” according to the suit. One of his most notable credits, according to his IMDB page was Hiimrawn‘s Gets Played series, for which he directed several episodes.
Watkins was one of four plaintiffs in Danny Zappin’s 2013 lawsuit against Maker, where he previously served as CEO. In an interesting twist, though, Watkins has named Zappin in his recent suit, suggesting a change in his relationship with the former Maker boss.
This is at least the third lawsuit filed against Maker Studios in the past 14 months. It was also sued by Andy Faberlle, a former “deal maker” at the company.
Maker Studios has declined to comment.