OK…this is surprisingly complicated…full explanation!
When EcoGeek (my environmental technology blog) started making enough money for it to be a business, I incorporated it into an LLC* called “EcoGeek LLC.” Then, when YouTube told us that it was possible for Vlogbothers to start serving advertisements, we just linked it with EcoGeek’s Adsense account thus, by default, making it part of that company.
So Vlogbrothers has always been “owned” by EcoGeek LLC which was, in turn, owned by me. Eventually, as Vlogbrothers grew to be much bigger than EcoGeek, I just gave John half of that company and it became the joint venture of Hank and John.
However, we’ve also started several other LLCs, including DFTBA Records, Subbable, and VidCon. Those are different entities because they’re pretty different things and also because they have different ownership structures (John was not initially an owner of DFTBA Records (though he is now) and I own more of VidCon than John does.)
EcoGeek LLC remains the thing that “owns” Vlogbrothers, SciShow, Crash Course, and The Art Assignment. The deals we have with partners for Mental Floss, How to Adult, The Brain Scoop, Sexplanations, and Health Care Triage are also between those partners and “EcoGeek.”
But I don’t really think of it this way…I think of all of our companies as projects of Vlogbrothers…or even maybe projects of Nerdfighteria. It’s like our production arm (EcoGeek) our events arm (VidCon) our fundraising arm (Subbable) our merch arm (DFTBA) and our philanthropy arm (The Foundation to Decrease WorldSuck) are all branches off the same tree.
Legally we can’t do this (for a number of reasons). So when we have someone who usually works for VidCon doing work for Subbable, we actually have to draw up a contract between VidCon and Subbable so that Subbable pays VidCon for the time that employee spends working on Subbable. It’s weird.
But when we hire people, we want them to feel like all of these companies are part of a greater thing (though we have to be clear that, legally, if you do work for one of the companies, we need to know so that we can have that company pay for it.) And it doesn’t really make sense for that greater thing to be called “EcoGeek” because that name is literally just there because I didn’t want to do an hour of extra work setting up a different Adsense account in 2008. So I often call the whole shebang “Vlogbrothers Industries” in my head and…apparently…sometimes I do it out loud.
* LLCs are a way of having a legal entity that is not a human own things, which is mostly to make sure the company can then go bankrupt without the human being on the line for the debts of the company.
Very well explained. Even I didn’t know some of this.
I was also told, as a videographer, to set up an LLC to protect myself against lawsuits, as someone would sue the company rather than the me. I never did set one up, but was about to before I was hired by EcoGeek :)