It seems like just yesterday we were waxing poetic about what a great month it’s been for Maker Studios. Just kidding, that was yesterday. Today, however, we are sorry to point out that there’s a cloud hanging over the Disney MCN’s magic kingdom. The cloud comes in the form of William Watkins, yet another former Maker employee who has an axe to grind with the new media company. According to The Wrap, Watkins has filed a lawsuit seeking up to $19 million in stock and deferred compensation.
Watkins joined Maker in 2009 as a showrunner during the network’s start-up period. He is credited as the director on a handful of Maker projects from the time including, according to his IMDB page, several episodes of hiimrawn’s “Get’s Played” series. The lawsuit alleges that Watkins agreed to take the bulk of his payment during this period in the form of deferred compensation and founder stock in Maker Studios. According to Watkins, Maker executives later reneged on that arrangement. The suit demands that Watkins receive $126,000 in deferred compensation, along with stock valued at around $19 million based on Maker’s recent acquisition by Disney.
Watkins was also a co-plaintiff in an earlier suit against Maker along with Derek Jones, Scott Katz, and Maker founder Danny Zappin. That earlier suit claimed that Maker management had illegally manipulated stock values in order to stack the company’s board of directors and remove Zappin from his post as CEO. Curiously, Watkins new lawsuit names Zappin as a co-defendant alongside his former colleagues at Maker. This latest suit is the third major challenge to Maker’s stock practices followings the company’s lucrative sale to The Walt Disney Company. Both former CEO Danny Zappin and ex-partner manager Andy Faberlle have filed similar complaints.
Disclaimer: Maker founder and former CEO Danny Zappin, who is named in Watkin’s lawsuit and in this article, is a principle investor in NewMediaRockstars.