Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Monday, March 4, 2013

Finances

The following two pointers tickled me with how similar they are and yet at the same time how opposite they are.

This, which I've reproduced here for those who aren't able to access Dropbox, is purported to be Pandemic Legion's 2012 spending audit.  It was passed around fairly widely (but with little fanfare) early last month and seems to be legitimate.  While not a full budget as such, it does lay out the amount of income and expenses of a null-sec alliance with no sov costs, including an "Esoteria Project" that takes place in November.  So I'm going to assume that it's the real deal.

As I said, it's not a full budget.  All it includes is a summary of expenditures -- some 3.76 trillion ISK of them -- as well as a total income -- 3.79 trillion -- and a breakdown of that income by month.  About 1.25 trillion ISK of the money goes to PL corporations but there's no detail provided on what that ISK is spent on.  There's a separate line item for sub-cap reimbursements, but it's relatively paltry, about 315 billion ISK.  851 billion was spent on "acquisitions and assistance" for titans (485B), super-carriers (74.5B), and carriers/dreads (291.6B).  The next biggest expense is "Tournament", presumably Alliance Tournament 10, on which 806 billion ISK(!) was spent.

After that, smaller amounts of ISK are spent on various expenses including 153 billion in awards, four(?) super-carrier reimbursements and one titan reimbursement.  22.5 billion was spent on the Esoteria Project, presumably on various structures like SBUs and staging POSes.

The most interesting thing to me about the audit isn't so much what the ISK is being spent on but where it's coming from.  That isn't specified, only that it's monthly and that it varies wildly from 258 billion to 424 billion per month.  It's likely mostly moon income.

In the A Song of Ice and Fire books on which Game of Thrones is based, each of the major Houses has "words" that are sort of a family motto.  The words of House Greyjoy are "We do not sow", meaning that house has no farmers and that House Greyjoy members pride themselves on stealing what they need from those they conquer.  Kind of reminds one of Pandemic Legion, doesn't it?  When and if CCP does put an end to passive moon income, it will be interesting to see where PL gets the trillions of ISK they'll need to maintain the lifestyle they've become accustomed to.

Maybe they can buy Red Frog Freight and operate it as a wholly-owned subsidiary.  ;-)

I've expressed my admiration for Red Frog and its various services a number of times on this blog, but never really thought that much about the finances behind the operation.

Red Frog also put out their annual report recently.  And it's the total opposite of PL's audit.  In this case, Red Frog laid out where their income came from: some 139,000 courier contracts worth a total of just over 1.9 trillion ISK.  Their report is just as detailed in its way, providing information on everything from volume to total number of jumps -- some 1.25 million of those -- and where the contracts were coming from and where they were going.  The last involves "Jita" quite a lot, as you might expect.  ;-)  More than a third of their contracts either originated in The Forge or ended there, or both.

They even keep track of their customers, and who of them are new customers and who are returning customers.  Can targeted advertising be far behind?  And Red Frog's report shows that they can boast a nearly ever-increasing volume of contracts for all of their services.

In the case of Red Frog though, while the sources of income are laid out in a great deal of detail (right down to a spreadsheet with all of the individual contracts listed), what they don't talk about are their expenses.  Where does all the ISK go?  The report doesn't have a word to say about the matter.

That's what tickled me about the dichotomy of these two reports: one has nothing to say about income, the other has nothing to say about expenditures.  It's funny what corps in EVE want to keep secret sometimes, isn't it?

Anyway, if you're interested in this topic, have a look at both reports.  There's a good bit of detail to be gleaned from them, and they do reflect the ever-increasing maturity of EVE Online alliances, as well as their ever-growing budgets.  It's not just Goons and TEST making their finances public any more, and it's not just null-sec corps raking in trillions of ISK.  Thank you to those of you who sent me these two pointers!

11 comments:

  1. What does Red Frog really have to spend on? Ship reimbursement, deposits and wages, I think. Maybe protection/safe passage as well, though the *Frogs are the type of service that generally tend to buy that by being too useful to make an enemy of.

    I imagine most of Red Frog's revenue is spent as wages or taken as pure profit*.

    *Depending on how the company's structured, they might not see a difference between the two.

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  2. Besides the obvious expense of paying freighter pilots to haul stuff, Red Frog has at least two more expenses. They pay pilots bonus rewards on contracts that are near expiry, to avoid contract failure. They also recently raised prices specifically to cover an insurance fund to replace any ganked freighters (although technically I think you would list something like this under "Assets" rather than "Expenses").

    In their in-game chat channel, I've seen various people claim that all contract rewards are paid out to pilots. If this is true, then RFF is probably being run as a loss-leader to get exposure and credibility for Blue- and Black-Frog services, which presumably are higher-margin. But who knows.

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  3. The PL finance statement was tweeted by Shadoo a month ago so it should be official.

    I imagine that PL will tax alliances it protects with its titans if and when the income becomes bottom up. Basically renters. I can't see how else they would do it as they won't be wanting to recruit a bunch of ratters and miners nor should they need to.

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    Replies
    1. Heh, lucky guess:

      https://twitter.com/shadooeve/status/307512144893710336

      I hadn't seen that when I wrote my previous comment!

      Delete
  4. The vast majority of *Frog income is straight to the pilots running the individual contracts, with the frog corps simply acting as an intermediary allowing people with stuff to move to easily find a large population of people willing to move stuff.

    RFF pilots keep at least 95% of their take with the remainder going to fund the Freighter insurance program (instituted after MiniLuv's campaign scored a few frog kills). The corp's operating expenses are paid by client donations with the excess donation funding incentives for pilots to move the oldest contracts.

    BFL pilots keep everything they make. The corp's expenses are paid by pilot donations each month.

    I haven't flown with Blue Frog, but I would suppose it's closer to BFL than the RFF in pay disbursement.

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  5. I believe the pilots themselves take the contract. The Corp as far as I am aware is just a tool to facilitate the contracting of the pilots. So in that regard RFs income = their expenses.

    Of course there could be other items but for the most part they should balance.

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  6. "The most interesting thing to me about the audit isn't so much what the ISK is being spent on but where it's coming from. That isn't specified, only that it's monthly and that it varies wildly from 258 billion to 424 billion per month. It's likely mostly moon income."

    Mistakes were made. is the PL renter alliance.

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  7. It was not our intention to hide our expenses, Jester.

    Most our income go directly to our pilots. 5-10% (variable, depending on number of losses) of the base contract reward of Red Frog Freight contracts goes towards our insurance corp which pays out reimbursement for collateral and freighters that are suicide ganked (provided our pilots have followed our guidelines for moving cargo). Some smaller amounts go towards medals and renting offices in high sec.

    Black Frog low-sec pilots pay about 50M pr month, Black Frog null-sec pilots pay about 100M pr month. These payments goes towards maintaining our office network in low-sec and null-sec, which are useful for our cyno pilots.

    Other than that, we don't have that many corporate expenses

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  8. RF/BF pilots keep all of the rewards. Apparently in recent history they've instituted a new insurance policy. In the old days, Locin ran a voluntary insurance program that pilots paid premiums into. The Frog's history is one of confederated independents, which is why it doesn't fit the typical profit/business model. It most closely resembles taxi drivers, except without the leased license fees. BTW-- Had you considered the possibility that RF/BF is, in fact, already a wholly owned subsidiary of another entity? (or, more accurately, that it has a core group of alts at the leadership level that serves the interests of another organization [or association, depending on your definition] under the guise of neutrality and the coincidentally profitable business of hauling other people's stuff, inventorying their package contents, and then using that information for business and spying purposes.)

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    Replies
    1. After some massive losses in 2012 due to suicide ganks, we instituted an obligatory insurance system. We have already reimbursed 6 freighter losses and collateral under this new insurance system. Suicide ganks is a part of the cost of running business, and instead of having the pilot bear all of the expenses in case of ganks, we have made a model that share the burden. In months where there are few losses, excess insurance payment is re-distributed into a bonus-program for our pilots.

      As for the accusations put forward of RF/BF being controlled by another entity and using the cargo contents for intel gathering, I would like to receive proof of those allegations. Contact me ingame on Locin WeEda if you have evidence to support such an accusation.

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    2. What proof could be offered that someone wouldn't claim was false? In the digital realm, everything can be faked.

      I leave it to the reader (and jester) to ponder this:

      You're an EVE player, part of a dark, cold, and twisted universe that thrives on both destruction and deceit. You have access to a data stream that will tell you what some (actually, most) of the biggest traders, corps, PvP alliances, and others are transporting, where they're transporting it from and to, over an extended period of time, without the need for implanting and running spies, and with no way for anyone to actually penetrate your collection operation. Would you do it?

      If Trader X is moving 20 BS to market in Jita, the price of said BS is running higher than normal, and you have 10 of the same BS sitting in your hangar in Jita, do you wait to hit the deliver button while you dump your ships on to the market?

      Maybe you're in the leadership circle of a PvP alliance, but you run a JF for BF. You find yourself regularly delivering supplies to a certian nullsec station you know to be a jump point to your enemy's home system. Do you use the info to prepare a gank on whoever comes to pick up the stuff? Do you take notes on the fittings and ships and prepare for future engagments accordingly?

      You're in the leadership circle of a big sov alliance, but you're running freight alts for logistics. You realize you can make money with the alts by joining RF. After being with them a month, you identify a fellow pilot who has a bad habit of picking up mutliple contracts and exceeding the billion ISK limit. It's easy enough for you to call on your pvp buddies to gank said freighter and you realize that you can package worthless junk in small boxes with a hefty collateral. No one in your alliance knows you've got an RF alt and no one in RF knows you're in an alliance. Do you do it?

      Last, let me make a distinction between the corporate entity of RF and the "association" I'm referring to. RF doesn't necessarily have to do anything for some of it's members to perform these actions. Not every person in RF or its leadership need be involved. Nor does it preclude the existence of multiple such associations.

      This sort of thing doesn't take a lot of people to make it happen. It needn't be an Illumi-nutty style conspiracy. All that is necessary is that someone understand what they have access to and what can be done with it. This is EVE; nature will take its course.

      Delete

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