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Catalyst Game Labs memo to freelancers

Catalyst Game Labs memo to freelancers

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Published by wzpdzsssavq
Memo from CGL to freelancers concerning the story behind their recent troubles and how they want to make sure everybody gets his money...believe it or not
Memo from CGL to freelancers concerning the story behind their recent troubles and how they want to make sure everybody gets his money...believe it or not

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: wzpdzsssavq on Mar 28, 2010
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02/05/2012

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Hello all,For those of you who don't know me, my name is Randall Bills and for the last several years I
’ve been serving as Catalyst
 
s Creative Manager.As many of you have undoubtedly noticed, Catalyst has hit a few stumbling blocksunder the weight of its dramatic growth over the last several years. As I’ve become the face of the current situation, I felt you all deserved a look at the current situation and some details regarding the steps Catalyst is taking to get all freelancer payments caught up so we can move forward.If you’ve not yet seen the press release I posted last week to www.catalystgamelabs.com, feel free to take a moment to check it out. I wanted to provide some further details.On Monday March 15th, the Catalyst team delivered our review of the business for2009 to the pertinent parties. Over the last several years, Catalyst Game Labshas showed a dramatic growth in terms of demand, increased total revenues and strong sales with an increasing market share in the gaming industry. A huge portion of the credit for that goes to you, the freelancers. After all, without your passion and dedication, there would be no books, no games, no Catalyst.That growth has not come without its obstacles, however, and by Q4 of 2009 the Catalyst Managers acknowledged that a co-mingling of funds between the personal and business had occurred involving the company’s primary shareholders, the Colemans. We immediately initiated an audit of the company
 
s historical financial records, and designed a comprehensive plan to get Catalyst
 
s production and payments back on schedule. This process took some three months of very long days, and was overseen by our Bookkeeper and Operations Manager, in conjunction with the Colemans.With the completion of the audit it is clear that the breadth of what occurred was significant, and would require extensive changes to correct. A detailed planwas outlined for changing the organization of the company, as well as many procedures to establish a strong financial oversight and series of checks and balances to ensure this doesn’t happen again in the future. It also included a proposalfor how the Colemans will begin paying back the money involved. All of those detailed findings and action plans were delivered to the pertinent parties on the15th of March as a key step in our efforts to move forward with full disclosureand transparency. A series of discussions are currently underway on how best toproceed.Last week, while in the process of drafting announcements for the public, as well as our vendors (distributors, printers and so on), licensors (i.e., Topps), Catalyst freelancers, and so on, some information was leaked to the public (and, as is the way of such things, immediately took on a life of its own). Obviously Iwas forced to deal with that leaking of information and am just now reaching apoint where I can be drafting information to share with our freelancers.There are several critical concerns (in no particular order) that Catalyst is moving to address ASAP.1. Re-organizing and re-structuring to prevent this situation from occurring again.2. Finalizing a plan for how the Colemans can repay the money owed to Catalyst.3. Ensuring the continuity of license with Topps concerning Shadowrun and BattleTech.4. Finding additional sources of revenue in the short term to help start payingdown various debts (including monies owed to all of you).5. Working with Posthuman (Eclipse Phase) and WildFire (CthulhuTech) to determin
 
e if they still wish to work alongside Catalyst. If they do not, we’ll make every effort to spin those games off to those respective companies in a way that will best ensure future growth.We’re moving as fast as we can in an attempt to address those primary concerns (as well as many others). However, this process simply is taking time … and willcontinue to take time heading into the future.Some of you have already expressed your inability to be patient with Catalyst aswe try and find solutions, and I completely understand your frustration. That frustration was mirrored by several Catalyst full-time employees who felt they simply could not continue with Catalyst after all that has occurred, including Jennifer Harding (Office Manager and Bookkeeper), Dave Stansel (Operation Manager)and Adam Jury (Head of Graphic Design), all of whom have formally left the company. We’re already moving to try to find appropriate people to take on their workand responsibilities. Though I wish their decisions might have been different—as they’re incredibly valuable to what Catalyst has been able to accomplish—I cannot fault them for the choices they’ve made. I’ve worked with them in various capacities for a long time and consider them good friends. I wish them well and hope we’ll have a chance to work together again some time in the future.During all of this, my decision-making process has been called into question. After all, how can I accept what’s happened? Why are the Colemans still involved at Catalyst if these events occurred? Usually I would have reservations about sharing such personal thoughts. However, since I’m asking for each of you to decideif you’re willing to allow Catalyst some time to address this situation, I feelit only appropriate to give you my thought process so each of you can make up your own mind.1. Catalyst would not be enjoying its current level of success without Loren’s strategic thinking, or without the connections he’s forged in our industry. We started as a small, internet hobby company in 2003 and only officially formed Catalyst three years ago. Yet as of last Gen Con we “stole the show” and are considered one of the “up-and-coming big boys.” While Catalyst is far more than a single person and is very much a team effort (including all of you), Loren’s contributions have been crucial.2. Would Catalyst survive if the Colemans were no longer involved? Yes, I believe it would. However, I believe that despite the horrific mistakes made, we willheal faster by keeping Loren involved as part of Catalyst’s ongoing strategic thinking. Last week that belief received a huge chorus of support when we contacted and/or were contacted by numerous people in the industry, including three titans of the industry (I’m not at liberty to share their names to this large of a group without asking their permission). Each of those three were given a blunt (albeit very brief) synopsis of what occurred, and yet each still pledged their support to Loren and me in helping move forward (both in the incredible business savvy they possess that made them titans, but also in potential revenues to bringto the company). Furthermore, two of these people are intimately familiar withTopps and with their strong advice in our pocket we’ve already approached Topps.Without getting into details we told Topps of our financial issues and made ourcase that despite those mistakes we have been fantastic in protecting and expanding the BattleTech and Shadowrun brands and that we are still the best possiblestewards of those brands. Topps liked our attitude and appreciated our bluntness and we’re setting up a face-to-face meeting in NY, following the GAMA Trade Show this week, to present a plan for how to move forward with securing those all-important licenses.3. I believe the best possible way to incentivize someone is to create a recipefor success. Excessively punishing and kicking someone to the curb does not incentivize anyone. Keeping someone involved in the process and invested in seeing Catalyst succeed so they can succeed is a far better path for all involved (and one I’ve seen succeed time and time again at all levels of business).
 
4. I’m not the only one that has seen and believes in the points above. If all the mangers, employees and investors of Catalyst had lined up in opposition to mythoughts and opinions as outlined above, then I very much believe I would’ve backed away, feeling that my decisions were compromised. However, while some haveleft and/or decided they can no longer work with Catalyst, we still have a verystrong team of investors, managers, employees and freelancers that supports theoverall direction of trying to deal with what’s occurred while finding ways to move forward.5. Considering how long I’ve been involved, and how much blood, sweat and tearsI’ve given for Catalyst, I’ve seen a lot of “How can Randall continue to work with Loren?” I’ve obviously known the Colemans for a very, very long time and beeninvolved intimately with the company from the day the idea was born 8 years ago. And after reviewing everything and doing some massive soul searching, I’ve made a personal decision that this was a terrible, terrible series of mistakes; I bear my own weight of guilt in this in that I didn’t pay better attention to thevarious red flags raised over the years that something wasn’t right. More importantly, I see in the Colemans every indication I need to see in order to make forgiveness seem appropriate. This falls into a “very personal” category, but it’skey to my point of view and if you’re trying to understand my decisions, it’s important you know this. While I may not be the usual image of an LDS church member that comes to most people’s mind, my faith is a bedrock; it is the only reasonI’ve survived the stress of the last several months and especially last week. But if I see a person genuinely sorrowful over a mistake (regardless of the sizeof those mistakes), and see that same person trying hard to make the mistakes right, I personally have to forgive them. Just as this as been the most difficultpersonal and professional crises of my career, it has been one of the most difficult for my faith, as the rage has had to give way to compassion and forgiveness. Please note, however, that this point is 100% a personal decision, one that deals with whether I can keep a personal relationship with the Colemans. If none of the other points above existed, then I would’ve asked Loren to completely stepaway from the company and he and I would’ve solved our issues in private. However, those very points are exactly why I’ve stated I believe the Colemans shouldstill intimately be involved with the company (though a host of checks and balance are in the process of being put into place) and why I can set aside my own personal anger and disappointment to try and move forward in what I believe is thebest possible way to save the company and to save the games we all love to workon.I apologize for the length of the email and for the incredibly personal nature of it, but I felt it warranted. Ultimately each of you will need to ask yourselves whether you can still trust Catalyst to treat with you fairly and to pay the debts owed you, while ensuring that such debts do not pile up for the future. We’ve laid strong groundwork to do just that over the last week and GTS this week will give us the opportunity to further cements those plans.We are also in the process of bringing on a new Bookkeeper who will continue theplan laid out by our previous Bookkeeper to send each of you a thorough audit of what our books show. This will allow us to ensure we’re not missing any work by anyone and will help us build a plan for how to start reducing the debt owed to each of you. However, the original plan called for that to go out by the end of March, but with the changing of the Bookkeeper that’s going to need to be middle to end of April.I hope each of you will be willing to bear with us during this crisis and give us the chance to make this right. However, if you feel you cannot, I completely understand and of course wish you well. More importantly, even if you feel you cannot do future work for us, of course we still will work to pay the debts owed to you.Thank you for your time and patience.

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