[Editor's Note: This piece was updated June 28, 2016 at 5:21 p.m. EST with Stela's statement.]
Did a digital publisher rewriting their contracts from a creator-owned to work-for-hire model cause a co-founder to exit the company?
Stela's Ryan Yount has announced his departure from the company just four months after its debut. Yount, who served as both Editor-in-Chief and Creative Director made the announcement Friday on Twitter.
No reason was given by Yount for the sudden departure, but Newsarama confirmed he was working in Stela’s San Francisco offices up until this past week. In addition to serving in a staff position, Yount also worked for Stela as writer of the title Inheritance.
Following Yount’s announcement, Tuesday Mark Waid commented on Twitter claiming that the departure was due to company investors demanding changes to the company’s creator-ownership contracts with creators.
What did Waid’s tweet mean?
When asked by Newsarama, the writer replied, “When I asked around, I got several verifications that Ryan was pushed out because his partner and investors insisted on rewriting agreements so that everything was now work-for-hire."
Stela responded to Newsarama's inquiry for comment with a prepared statemen which confirms Yount's departure but refutes the claims made by Waid.
"Stela does not comment on internal policy. The company can confirm Ryan Yount’s departure from Stela as of Thursday, June 23, and wishes him well on his future endeavors. Stela is committed to fulfilling all established contracts, to which no changes have been made."
Stela would not disclose a complete list of its founders or partners, however their website lists its parent company as the mobile entertainment company BreakoutBit.
Launched in February, Stela is a digital-only comics publisher which offers its titles exclusively to iOS users in a horizontal strip format for a flat rate per month. Earlier this month, Stela rebranded its app as Stela Unlimited and raised its monthly subscription price from $5 to $9.99.
When Stela was first announced in November 2015, Yount told Newsarama that the company was comprised of "seven or eight" staff members with backgrounds primarily in mobile gaming. He specified that all of Stela's titles were creator-owned, with the company working on a profit-split model.
Yount could not be reached for comment.