Our company deals a lot with consumers. Which means, inevitably, there is a
certain percentage of people who think we're a bunch of crooks.
I take that really personally. I know I shouldn't, it's the nature of doing
business on the Internet. But people just have no idea how dirty the business
It's the start of a new quarter which means Stardock is paying out its
royalties to those developers who are paid in that manner. We've never missed a
payment. Ever. Even in 1998 when the OS/2 market was collapsing and I had
to lay off people, we didn't miss a royalty payment out.
Over the past 10 years, we've mailed out a lot of money in royalties. But
here's the kicker: The amount of royalties we should have received should have
dwarfed the amount we've paid out. I say should because over the
years, we've gotten screwed on royalties over and over.
And it continues. And it really irritates me because there's no excuse for
any real company to miss a royalty payment (unless they plan to file for
bankruptcy). Why? Because real companies, even little ones like ours, keep
royalty money escrowed. We don't count developer royalties as part of our
"liquid assets". Instead, we keep them separated, budgeted out. Royalty
amounts don't come as a shock and can be easily planned for.
Even now, when our single biggest source of income should be from
royalties, it's not because we're not getting paid. Sure, the people who owe us
are trying to send us little bits here and there but it's ridiculous. So even as
we go without these payments, we continue to pay our royalties out to our
developers because we budgeted properly. Thankfully we didn't count our
chickens before they were hatched and pre-spend the money we had expected from
But then again, I'm not an accountant. I'm not even a "business guy". I'm an
engineer and it just seems like common sense to not rely overly on "accrual"
forms of accounting.
We always pay our bills. We always try to make sure to "do the right thing".
Which is why it ticks me off when someone says we're "shady" or whatever.
Because they have no idea. Right now, as I type this, in 10 years we're
owed $1.1 million, the majority of which we'll never see. Imagine if
someone handed you a $1.1 million check. That's a lot of money. Put that
in the bank or in a wise investment and be assured of financial security.
I'm 32 years old. Think how much $1.1 million put into a money market account
would be worth in 23 years. What's really infuriating is that that money
was mostly lost due to the bungling of someone else. Someone else couldn't
do their primary job competently enough to budget.
Someday, when I'm older and more bitter (give me time) I'll drive by the
"CEOs" (or former CEOs) of the companies that were "too broke" to pay and see
what kind of houses they live. Something tells me that they didn't personally go
without. When Stardock almost died in 1998, I put my home on the line to
make sure we paid our bills. If we had gone bankrupt, we would have lost our
home. But it was the right thing to do. We had a responsibility to our
employees, developers, and business partners. And I believe that in the
long term, honesty and integrity pay off (only 2 people have voluntarily left
Stardock since its founding and we are on good terms with every person we've
done business with in which we were the net payer to them i.e. no mad business
Ah, I feel cleansed.