Zealot Networks, a digital startup founded by one of the founders of Maker Studios, has scored an investment from U.K.-based television network ITV.
In a statement released Monday, the companies said the investment will support the building of Zealot’s digital studio and its mergers and acquisitions activities. Financial details were not released, but Zealot has to date raised over $30 million, and the ITV stake values the company at over $100 million, according to a release.
“ITV’s investment provides a foothold in Europe and lays the groundwork for Zealot’s global expansion,” said Danny Zappin, president and CEO, in the release. “The ITV relationship also gives us upstream opportunities for IP/content to distribute across traditional and digital media platforms.”
Launched about 6 months ago, not much was at first known about Zappin’s Venice-based startup. But last week it was revealed Zealot invested in AudioMicro, a company that licenses sound effects and audio clips to subscribers who are individual creators, media companies and MCNs. In September, Zappin also bolstered his executive leadership team. Zappin told the Wall Street Journal he wants to try his hand at all aspects of the digital entertainment business including talent management, brand partnerships and content production.
Zappin exited Maker in the spring of 2013, and has since shown he is disgruntled about the leave, filing lawsuits against the company including one this past spring trying to block the sale of the MCN to Disney. Soon after his departure, in June of 2013 Zappin sued the company seeking damages and the removal of Maker’s board of directors at the time.
ITV, for its part, sees potential in his new venture and ambitions.
“Danny Zappin has been at the forefront of digital media in the U.S. for some time and it’s fantastic to be part of this exciting new venture,” said Kevin Lygo, managing director of ITV Studios. “A key part of ITV’s strategy is to exploit the increasing global demand for quality content across a range of platforms, which closely aligns with Zealot’s own ambitions to not only distribute content across its own sites, but also to third-party platforms such as YouTube, Vine and Instagram.”
Earlier this fall the U.K. broadcaster invested into digital studio Believe Entertainment Group.
Under the terms of the deal, ITV will join the board of directors.