By Sahil Patel
It appears what everyone was thinking when news broke that Maker Studios co-founder and CEO Danny Zappin was stepping down from his role at the company is true: It was not Zappin’s decision to relinquish his title, as he was instead “ousted” by the MCN’s new board of directors. Or, at least, that’s what Zappin and the three others — Scott Katz, Derek Jones, and Will Watkin — are alleging in a new lawsuit filed against Maker Studios, according to a report from Variety.
In early May, Maker announced that Zappin was stepping down as chief executive and would essentially be replaced by Maker chairman Ynon Kreiz, who then assumed the role of executive chairman. Zappin would remain connected to Maker as a member of the board of directors and a “special adviser” to Kreiz, a well-known television/media executive.
At the time, in a statement, Zappin had said: “As we prepare to move into the next phase of growth for Maker Studios, I felt it was the right time to make a significant transition. As the former CEO and Chairman of Endemol… Ynon has the specific media exec experience that we need to take Maker to the next level.”
Now, the lawsuit filed by Zappin, Katz, Jones, and Watkin claims Maker Studio’s board of some shady tactics which were designed to remove Zappin from his position at the company. The defendants in the suite include Kreiz, Maker co-founders Ben Donovan and Lisa Donovan, as well as GRP Partners, Mida Holdings California, and Angulo Investors II, among others. Maker Studios is named as a dominal defendant. Per Variety, the plaintiffs are requesting a temporary restraining order, a constructive trust over Maker, and the removal of the current board.
Last year, Maker Studios secured a $36 million money round led by Time Warner Investments (Kreiz also participated in the round).
We’ve reached out to Maker for comment, and will update accordingly.