Disney has acquired Maker Studios for $500 million, with an additional $450 million waiting for Maker’s founders and backers if certain conditions are met. The acquisition was first reported by Reuters Monday, and followed reports about negotiations between the two companies a few weeks ago.
Maker is one of a number of so-called multichannel networks (MCNs) on YouTube, which means it operates as well as partners with a number of popular channels on the video site. Maker’s YouTube channels have more than 4.5 billion monthly video views, and more than 340 million subscribers. Some of the better-known channels include PewDiePie and Epic Rap Battles of History.
Maker was founded by original YouTube talent, including early online video stars Lisa Donovan and Shay Carl Butler and Danny Zappin, who used to serve as the company’s CEO. However, as the company looked to expand and turn YouTube video views into a profitable business, it also frequently clashed with some of its talent and even executives. Zappin sued Maker after its ouster last summer, and YouTube star Ray William Johnson engaged in a very public spat with the company at the end of 2012.
Maker Studios raised a total of $70 million from Greycroft, Time Warner, SingTel and others.