Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Frustrations on getting paid
Published on October 6, 2003 By Draginol In Philosophy

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 world is.

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 royalties.

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 partners).

Ah, I feel cleansed.


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