Maker Studios co-founder and ex-CEO Danny Zappin has closed the first major deal for his new company Zealot Networks. The digital media company which aims to help creative startups and entrepreneurs accelerate their growth has acquired a stake in AudioMicro, the parent company of YouTube monetization platform AdRev.
Zealot’s purchase means it is now the majority owner of AudioMicro, which was recently ranked by Inc. as the #2 fastest-growing U.S. media company in terms of revenue growth. Through the deal, Zealot also has access to music licensing and distribution company DashGo, a recent acquisition of AdRev. Zappin, president and CEO of Zealot, will join AdRev’s board of directors as part of the deal.
Zappin explained the AdRev acquisition will further Zealot’s “digital point of view.” “Nothing we’re doing is bound by traditional models,” he said in the release. “AdRev has created a whole new model for monetizing music, video and photo rights and will support Zealot as part of an infrastructure for managing a multi–vertical, multi-platform network on YouTube and beyond.” Zappin added that AdRev will be central to Zealot’s Music + Entertainment platform.
“Partnering with Danny, an industry pioneer with vision and proven execution, means further expansion and growth for our company,” said Ryan Born, founder and CEO of AdRev, who will keep his position in the company. “Expect us to continue to provide industry-leading rights management products and services as we bring new monetization opportunities to our clients and rights holders.”
Zappin has a shaky history with Maker Studios. After he stepped down as CEO in 2013, he sued the multi-channel network and several of its key executives for breach of contract. He then pushed against Disney’s acquisition of Maker Studios before getting Zealot Networks off the ground with a $25 million funding round.
The acquisition of AudioMicro is the first major, non-litigious announcement we’ve seen from Zappin since he started Zealot. Transaction details and numbers of the Zealot-AudioMicro deal were not provided.