Word is that Gen Con has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This comes on the heels of the news that Lucasfilm recently filed suit against the company over bills related to the latest Star Wars Celebration, which Gen Con put on last year.
This is not good news. I love Gen Con, and I love the people who run it. Peter Adkison, who owns the company with his wife Melissa, is a longtime friend, and this cannot be any fun for him.
However, it seems that the two recent announcements are closely related. The Star Wars Celebration was the first (I believe) without a new Star Wars film to help rouse the fanbase, and Gen Con likely lost money on it. Combine this with three years of trying to get Gen Con So Cal up and running, and you have some holes that have formed in this sturdy ship’s hull.
However, the core business of Gen Con Indy (the original and only in my heart) is reportedly solid, a good money maker on its own. Without the other shows draining Gen Con’s coffers, the company stands a good chance of turning itself around.
It’s possible that the Lucasfilm suit forced Gen Con into involuntary bankruptcy. The last time I checked, it only took three dedicated creditors to force this to happen, but there are ways to engineer such things if you’re determined. I’d guess that Gen Con would have preferred to settle the issue with Lucasfilm quietly, but that didn’t happen. Now they’ll get to negotiate a settlement in the open and with the help of a bankruptcy court instead.
Clearly, Peter (who founded Wizards of the Coast and sold the company to Hasbro) could pay this debt out of his own pocket if he wanted, but that’s why Gen Con is a corporation (an LLC, to be exact). One of the biggest reasons to incorporate a business is to insulate your personal assets from that of the business. Beyond your initial or continued investment in the company, it should be able to stand on its own. If it succeeds, the owners get to share in that success, but if if should fail or fall on hard times, creditors can only go after the assets of the corporation, not those of the owners too.
I’m hopeful that Gen Con will weather this storm and come out into sunny days soon. I’m not changing my plans to attend the show this summer—and every other summer to come.