Maker Studios, a network of independent YouTube channels, closed $26 million in financing, bringing the total amount raised by the four-year-old start-up to more than $70 million.
Investors in the most recent round include Canal+, Astro, SingTel Innov8, Lakestar, Northgate Capital and Upfront Ventures, which also had invested in previous rounds. The international flavor of this latest group of investors suggests the round was not just a bid for financing, but was also a move to acquire strategic partners in international markets such as Europe, where Canal+ operates, and Asia, where SingTel, Astro and Northgate have native expertise.
Maker's network of 60,000 channels, comprised of a mix of channels it owns as well as those it manages for independent YouTube artists and filmakers, generate some 4 billion views a month, making the network one of the largest on YouTube. While those numbers are impressive, succeeding on YouTube would require even larger scale. With 75% of YouTube's views coming from outside the U.S., international markets are a natural source of growth.
"Our objective was to expand our investor base to include major players in key international markets," said Ynon Kreiz, executive chairman of Maker Studios. "With talent in more than 80 countries, our viewers outside the U.S. already account for more than half our total audience, and our new partners will be instrumental in continuing our growth as a truly global media company."
Since its founding in 2009, Maker has rocketed up the YouTube charts -- partly from the organic growth of its founding channels such as Staytards, KassemG and SxePhil, as well as by aggregating other popular YouTube channels such as PewDiePie and The Gregory Brotthers to form a network that can negotiate higher advertising rates and brand sponsorship deals. The Culver City, Calif., company has since organized its disparate channels into advertiser friendly verticals that target specific demographics such as gamers, mothers and young hipsters.
Earlier this month, in bid to diversify its business to be less dependent on YouTube, Maker also closed its acquisition of Blip, a network of online video properties that operate largely outside of YouTube.
To date, Maker has raised more than $70 million in financing, including $36 million in a round led last year by Time Warner.