There’s more big money going into video startups: Maker Studios, which ranks among the top networks of creators publishing on YouTube, announced today that it has closed a $36 million round of financing led by Time Warner Investments. The announcement confirms a previous report that Time Warner would be investing in the company.
Other investors participating include Greycroft Partners, GRP Partners, Robert Downey’s investment company Downey Ventures, Elisabeth Murdoch, FUEL, Jon Miller and Jimmy Yaffe’s investment firm M+C, Maker chairman Ynon Kreiz, Daher Capital, and Hollywood producer Jon Landau. Along with the investment, Time Warner’s Rachel Lam will join the company’s board of directors.
Maker has raised a total of $44 million to date, which has helped finance a fast-growing content production and distribution partnership of YouTube creators. Founded in 2009 by a group of independent YouTubers who decided to help each other out, the idea at the time was that by joining forces and cross-promoting each others’ content, the whole would be greater than the sum of its parts. And indeed, the plan seems to be working. Maker now has more than 2 billion views per month and is regularly among the top three independent YouTube networks when it comes to unique viewers and video views.
More than just a place for high-profile YouTubers like KassemG, the Shaytards, The Gregory Brothers, and Mike Tompkins to appear in each others’ videos, Maker has expanded to support networks of creators in a wide variety of content categories. Existing verticals include comedy, music, gaming, fashion, and mom programming, for which Maker has recruited thousands of independent creators to be part of its network. In exchange for being a part of Maker, those creators get audience development, content production, promotion, distribution, and sales and marketing services to boost their audiences and improve monetization.
Maker isn’t the only YouTube content company raising big financing rounds: Earlier this year, Machinima took in $35 million in a round led by Google. And there will surely be more money pouring into this space over time, as other YouTube creator networks — like Fullscreen — are also rumored to be raising rounds. That money is being driven mostly by the belief that YouTube is finally becoming a viable platform for distributing — and monetizing — independent video content, and perhaps the hope that some of these YouTube networks will become next-generation media conglomerates of their own.