EXCLUSIVE: Disney’s Maker Studios confirmed today it’s in the midst of layoffs. The digital operation isn’t saying what prompted the changes, but we heard the number of employees affected is about 30.
“Maker Studios’ business is constantly evolving, and after careful thought, we have decided to make some strategic adjustments – reducing staff in some areas while still actively hiring in others – to best align with the go-forward strategy of the company,” it said in a prepared statement.
This is the latest indication that the operation Disney bought with much fanfare in 2014 is falling short of expectations.
In May, Maker stood out from the pack of digital companies making splashing Newfront presentations to advertisers by unveiling programming plans at what it described as “an intimate breakfast with brand clients.”
Maker told them it planned to pay attention to core genres including gaming, life and style, entertainment, and kids and family. That was a contrast to 2015, when the specialist in shortform programming trumpeted ambitious plans to work with Disney units including Marvel, ESPN and ABC’s Lincoln Square Productions.
Disney committed $500 million for Maker in 2014 — with an additional $450 million possible if the company hit undisclosed financial targets. But Maker missed: Disney paid out $198 million, including about $100 million for the fiscal year that ended in early October.
In January, Courtney Holt became head of Maker, replacing Ynon Kreiz.