We want to acquire a website that is driven by a large community and non-profit. Before going to the attorney I want to do my own research on this topic.
The problem is that the ownership of this user-driven community is not very clear and it's our first acquisition.
- Owners of intellectual property
Person A, founder: developed 7 years ago a custom script interface for the website. This has been modified/improved by other people and right now is highly outdated and needs to be redone. The site is hosted in his company but paying every year for the service a considerable amount. He was active during the first 3 years and is the founder/entrepreneur de facto.
Person B, founder/sponsor: together with A, they started the site. He owns the domains. Yet he has been only active less than 2 years out of 7 and has barely done anything. Just paid the servers 2-3 years (after that was supported by donations from hundreds of users) and worked on setting it up during the first months. Then he literally disappeared.
Person C, late founder: a few months later the site was opened he joins the "founding council". Together with other people that also have spent a lot of time, he worked hard during the first 3 years building the community. Later he stayed in the background overseeing without any executive power. He claims to be the most important founder and someone who uses to say "thanks to me...". Nothing is at his name and says he could get the domains from Person B if he calls him.
Person D, founders think he has a stake: he has been the managing director of the site during the last 3 years. He made big and important changes in what the site currently does , changed the vision, mission and expanded the site (big growth). He turned a small community into something large and attractive to buy. Without him the site would die or considerable downgrade the current quality level. He also has all gaming servers and paid services under his name.
Others: they have contributed like Person C and D with time, passion and creativity but in a smaller degree and not from a position of responsibility as top leaders.
- Everybody is willing to sell the site. The reasons are scalability problems.
- Only Person A and Person B have tangible ownership (domains and website)
- Only Person D has tangible ownership to no website related servers (gaming servers, external services)
- The current website is outdated in technology and needs a complete new site, including the original interface script.
- Person C claims to have most rights and should have the biggest stake for working during the initial years.
- Person D is leading the sales process (has business background and knows that not selling would mean killing the site with costs and dedication demand). We want him to work for us.
Who is relevant and important for the site acquisition process?
If not, where can I find resources on acquiring sites or communities?