Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Hey Kids, Let’s Put on a $4M VC-Funded Show! A Visit to the YouTube Moguls of Maker Studios (Video)

Recently, I went to Venice, Calif., to visit the hipster HQ of Maker Studios, a new-generation production company that has just gotten another $2.5 million in venture funding to help it make videos, mostly for YouTube.

That brings total funding from Greycroft Partners and GRP Partners to $4 million for a studio created to bring more professional original content to the Internet.

In addition, sources said, Courtney Holt, former president of Myspace Music, will begin helping Maker this summer as an adviser.

That means headier times for its co-founders Dan Zappin, Lisa Donovan and Ben Donovan, who have now definitively chosen the Web over the traditional Hollywood careers they started in.

Their strategy is not complex: Make more professional videos using better shared production tools, distribute and cross-promote them via a myriad of channels on YouTube, and make money using the Google unit’s advertising system.

There is interest in the model. Google — which has a tight relationship with Maker via encouragement and also a $100,000 grant — even bought a competitor, Next New Networks, in March.

And while Maker has a hey-kids-let’s-put-on-a-show-meets-Jon-Stewart-ironic vibe, it has garnered many hundreds of millions of views monthly and made some Web stars already, in what has amounted to a virtuous video circle.

Will it work? Who knows, but it certainly is colorful, as you will see from my video tour below, along with an interview with its founders:

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus