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Friday, January 18, 2008

Ideas for BPO Financing

This is your Alliance Leader speaking. Since we don't have much of a web site atm, thought I'd use my blog to hash out some ideas till we get one going.

First order of business:
We're an industrial alliance at the moment. Hopefully we'll get a combat arm and become a more general alliance down the road but for now we need to concentrate on our strengths and not our lacks. As part of this we (the various CEOs and some individual members) have been batting around ideas for alliance goals. One thing that keeps coming back is getting into Capital Production. So we've kind of made the decision to look into capital production.

Second order of business:
The issues.
  1. What do we need to buy?
  2. How do we set it up so no one gets screwed?
  3. What are the stages of this project?
  4. Once the project is finished, how is the unwind planned?
  5. Are you sure we want to start with such a big project?
Point 5 will be addressed first in light of point 2. The answer here is that no we're not sure starting with a project this big is a good idea. In fact it's not. Because we want to make sure the way we go about creating the mechanism for investment and operation on the capital scale in such a way as to be able to trust that we'll get some return on our investment we need to come up with a formula that's fair for everyone. We also need to recognize that there are various stages in the life of such endeavors. Here is an example to clarify the progression:
  • Stage 1: Financing. Some form of raising capital needs to be worked out. Some reliable way of recording invesment is needed. Note that this should include the necessary financing for not only the capital outlay for equity acquisition (i.e. the cash needed for any bpos) but also for the startup operating costs (i.e. the initial minerals and/or cash needed to build the first item or two).
  • Stage 2: Research. If stage 1 involved the acquisition of BPOs provisions must be made to get them researched. Preferably before getting them used.
  • Stage 3: Operations. This stage basically goes on till a decision is made to wind down the project. During this stage, the items which we have invested heavily in are actually constructed and sold (bloody better well be at a profit). The startup financing should theoretically be enough to keep things rolling. Note that any BPC acquisition is considered part of operating expenses which will reduce profitability of the project but allow for a much easier wind down. As profits are made, they are distributed amongst the shareholders of the project.
  • Stage 4: Wind down. At some point the alliance will probably want to move on to some other large project. At that point decisions must be made about winding down the existing project (we won't be building item X that this project was setup to build). Some reasonable method of liquidating the assets of the project must be undertaken and the proceeds of the liquidation must be distributed to the shareholders. At this point the project can be clossed down.
After looking into capital production, there are various ways to go about it.
  1. We could simply buy all the BPCs necessary for an individual project.
  2. We could buy the component BPOs, research those and use BPCs for the actual ships.
  3. We could get all the nessesary BPOs, research those and use them.
Option 1 is the cheapest, but with less long term pottential profits to be made. Option 3 is the less flexible, but does provide us with the most assets in the long run.

Road map:
Getting to capital production is going to be a fairly long process. We'll probably start with a BS project to get the bugs ironed out of the system. Once we've got the technique down pat, the next step is to get into freighter production. Once we've mastered that we would get into dread construction then into other capitals. There are many reasons for this. The first is that the same components that go into making freighters also go into making dreads, there are just more of them in dreads than freighters. Freighters can be made in high sec, the rest have to be made in low sec or 0.0. Although battleship construction is properly the province of corporations and high SP individuals, we'll be starting with that. The battle ship project is simply to iron out the bugs of any system we establish for capital financing and construction. This is because battleships do not require more than 1 BPO/C and the minerals necessary to to build them. So its simple to work out the mechanics of the financing part without trying to deal with the complexity of a capital ship project at the same time.

BPOs vs BPCs.
BPOs are really the only true "assets" in the game. This is because once you have one you can keep producing items from it. Now there are two ways to look at BPOs: They confer the ability to be independent from the market. They are an investment to be profited from. BPCs on the other hand are really production expenses. They provide the flexibilty to do something while not committing large amounts of capital for a specific project. These would be more appropriate to a one off corp project as opposed to an alliance wide project.

Financing models.
There are various ways to finance such a large project. One way is for the individual corporations to simply acquire the necessary bpos and together work on manufacturing the capital ship. The advantage of this method is that the corporate structures don't change and the BPOs are always under control of a specific entity at any one time. The dis-advantage of such a method is that if one that has a critical part leaves the whole project goes on standstill till that part is acquired by one of the remaining corporations. There is also the problem of different pace of work between the different corporations. Some corporations will acquire their part of the project much faster than the others leading to idleing isk while they wait for the rest of the corps to catch up or the situation where there are duplicate investments (i.e. 2 corp with the same BPO).

Another way if for the alliance to use an alt to form a finance corporation. Then we would use this corporation to cumulate the isk necessary for the project while distributing shares to all investors. This solves a few problems. The project becomes independent of the people raising isk for it. So that if one individual or corporation decides to leave the endevor, they still have the shares representing the investment they made (and if the project makes any profit they'll still get some isk out of it). They can keep the share or even sell them to other people (within or outside of the alliance). The important thing is that the project as a whole is not directly dependent on specific investors being part of the production phase.

This later model is the model we'll be working the bugs out of with our little battleship project. What we'll need to do is as follows:

1. Establish the finance corporation.
2. Run corporation/Alliance ops with the objective of raising Isk for this project. Individual or corporate direct investment are also welcome. The idea here is to keep participation on a voluntary basis. But all contributions are matched by giving out shares in the finance corporation. Note that only shareholders that are also members of the financial corporation will have any voting privileges. For this reason this corporation should probably be controled by the alt of a trusted person in the alliance. I suggest for the BS project that 10k a share is resonable. Individuals in the alliance can then simply make direct isk contributions and receive shares in the corporation. I suggest that the person organizing an op simply be responsible for distributing the shares to the individuals who ran the op in some pre-agreed upon method.
3. Aquire the BPO
4. Research the BPO. Well we've got an alliance POS so this shouln't be too much of a problem. We probably want to make sure the ceo that's an alt is a research alt. Or we need to trust him to pick a trustworthy person to do the research.
5. Go into operations. At this point there may need to be a further (much smaller) round of financing to enable the acquisition of the materials necessary for the first production. The interesting thing here is that one method of mineral acquisition is the establishments of contracts for use by alliance corporations to fill out the mineral orders. This a) allows direct renumeration for the mining the miners do and b) keeps the isk withing the alliance. The rest can be purchased from the market. Then the item can be built. Once that's complete the item can be sold by what ever method seems best - market of contract. Once it's sold profits are distributed and another round of manufacture started. Note that to maintain the value of the shares, since the initial construction is also financed by shares, that value should remain in the company till the wind-down phase.
6. Wind down. This consists of the liquidation of assets - basically selling the BPO(s) for what the researched BPO(s) is/are worth - either on the contract market or to someone in the alliance who has the isk and wants to buy it. At that point the distribution of the isk in the corporation can be done and all shareholders receive their split. At this point the value of the shares drop to zero. There are two ways to dispose of these shares - one trade em back to the finance corporation before its' dissolved or - two trade the now worthless shares to a character called trash (if you're going to name a characters trash, expect to be used as one). The company is then closed and the project is considered finished.

Well we need to discuss this idea some more so please use the comments section here.

3 comments:

Almo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
georgefox said...

I like the overall idea.
I especially like the incremental approach. Every step should finance the next. This minimizes risk

It seems to me that organization will be the hard part. (how do we keep it both coherent and fun?)

The fun part, for me, is the tricky bit. I already have a job. Don't need another (but I do like to have fun).

Strangeone said...

Well this is the reason for starting small, we can see how hard it is to acquire a single bpo in the billion range for our alliance. If it's not to hard we'll expand up if it is, well then we'll know. As far as the rest is one of the reasons I organized it as a share type operation is that not everyone will contribute equally nor will everyone want to pump a lot of their isk into the project. Its setup so that people running ops can decide whether their ops are personal, corp or alliance. The only caveat is that at least one alliance op a month is run to cover general alliance expenses.