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Bear with me as this reads a bit messy...guess it is.
I co-own a few medium sized English language news sites. My business partner is German and he owns the other half.
He also works for a German company that does other work and he owns a bit of that company as well, though not much.
We decided to setup a German lauguage version of the main site. widget.de as a joint venture between our company and the one he works for.
So we set it up using our custom CMS, design etc. A copy fo the English site except for the content. We paid half of the bills until it moved into profit.
Now they had not been sending us half of the profit. I let it slip as thought it would be handy for corp tax at end of the year. Now they owe us about $12,000 and seem to have spent it propping up other parts of their business. They also say they are skint for the next while.
Now I have access to the ad network, Adsense etc so I know they are making about 6-10K per month in profit on the site and it is going up and they are getting the money.
My problem is what do I do. We host the sites, the brand, design, etc is all our own. There is no formal agreement.
One thing I don;t have access to is the German domain as it was registered by partner and he might have moved to German company or at least would put him hard position if I demanded control. On one side I do not want to cause a problem for him by taking agressive action and on the other I cannot watch this debt build into tens of thousands. I trust him 100% but not the company he works for.
A hard lesson being learned but what to do? I thought the worst case would be us trying to take over the site and then paying them any profit share - opposite of now. But they could switch the domain I guess, though they don't have server access to the site and it is massive. Would it have to be lawyers and ICANN for that?
I am hoping can resolve but was looking for feedback or if anyone ever had similar issue.
Call your business partner, and talk about it.
But first, prepare yourself. Think about what you want to say, make some notes. Put down in point form all the facts, your claim of part ownership, the verbal agreements that you understood to be binding, and what you expect to be paid.
That way you won't be prone to make any emotionally fuelled threats or accusations.
As soon as you finish reading this post, go get some tea or coffee, sit for 10 minutes to gather your thoughts, then pick up the phone.
"Letting it slip" won't do you any good, and it tacitly tells your business partner that what he's doing is OK.
Yes, you are right. Will be chatting later tonight. Problem is that he is not in control of his side of things. I guess we will have to try and work out a repayment for them or something. Need to stop the build up of their debt to us.
But I will have to check legal options as well I think. I am hoping we are on strong ground as our site name, design, cms, logos, servers etc.
Yeah you are right. We should probably setup a separate Ltd in UK and have that own the site with us each having half the shares.
Meantime we have agreed going forward. So they will pay what they owe each month and next year will start to pay off the older amount owed as well.
However, formal arangements would have made this much easier to resolve.