From Days of Yore
To some economists, the Fall and the numerous crises that predated it on Earth can be viewed as an extinction event, the end of the line for the massive transnational megacorp dinosaurs, financial giants that supported their monolithic frameworks on outdated economic models and industrial technologies. The hypercorps are their evolutionary descendants: slimmer, faster, meaner, and more flexible, eagerly embracing the possibilities of new technologies and never afraid to toss the old aside to take advantage of the new. It was the hypercorps that drove transhumanity’s expansion into space and who continue to push the technological envelope, guiding transhumanity towards new horizons—always with profit as their driving goal.
Most hypercorps are decentralized, non-asset-based legal entities. Complete automation, advanced robotics, morph technology, and cornucopia machines allow the hypercorps to abstain from mass employment for labour or production services. The need for physical labour has mostly been reduced to tasks associated with habitat construction, terraforming, or deep space mining. Infomorphs and AIs are heavily employed (or more accurately, owned) as drone operators or virtual workers, and many administrative tasks are performed online via augmented reality, virtual private networks, and simulspace nodes. Some hypercorps are in fact entirely “virtual,” with no physical assets and each employee acting as a mobile office. A few major hypercorps literally consist of only a dozen transhuman personnel. Though some hypercorps are massive and diversified, most specialize in particular fields or services. This results in both an intricate system of partnerships to develop, produce, and market products and services and a large-scale tendency to internally contract special services from other hypercorps. Many hypercorps also pool their resources and talent into cooperative research initiatives, project centres, or shared habitats.
Most hypercorps are traditional capitalist in outlook, though many have adopted alternative business philosophies and management models. This might include basing decisions on internal forecast market trends, groupthink consensus models, or ditching management entirely in favour of staff polling/voting initiatives that statistically fare better. A few are anarcho-capitalist or mutualist companies originating from Extropian enclaves, though these often suffer from a bias when making deals with inner system powers.
Major Industries: Cognitive Science, Mental Implants, Psychosurgery, Nootropics
Major Stations: Thought (Venus orbit), Phobos (Mars moon)
A pioneer in the eld of cognitive science, Cognite (pronounced cog-neet) drives forward the cutting edge of research into understanding the transhuman mind. Well known for their mental augmentations and the original menton morph design, Cognite also specializes in psychosurgery and nootropics. Their elitist and aloof image was not aided by their scandalous involvement with the projects to raise accelerated growth children that became known as the Lost generation, nor rumours that they engage in research involving TITAN-influenced incapacitating input attacks. Nevertheless they remain a key member in the Planetary Consortium.
Major Industries: Security Services, Military Contracting
Major Stations: Hexagon (Earth-Luna L5)
Descended from the remnants of several pre-Fall national military forces and private military contractors, this hypercorp made a name for itself in the period immediately following the Fall, where they helped manage refugee populations among various habitats and vessels while shattering any sign of unrest immediately and with full force. Direct Action today is known for its highly efficient shock troops and superior combat morphs, providing security and public police services to self-governing habitats or hypercorp installations. Shifting political alliances between habitat clusters, corporate rivalry, and the constant fear of TITAN agents cater to Direct Action’s paranoia-inducing marketing. The corporation maintains several habitats as physical training facilities and armament depots.
Major Industries: Uploading, AIs, Electronics, Software
Major Stations: Starwell (Main Belt)
Often regarded as the personal technocratic pulpit of the infamous media mogul Morgan Sterling, ExoTech emerged from the Fall almost unscathed, any significant losses absorbed by corporate assets in peripheral market segments, while ruthlessly buying out troubled competitors or think tanks unable to adapt to the transitioning economy. Nowadays, ExoTech remains a predominant designer of high-end electronics, AIs, and mesh presence software systems. ExoTech also continues to pursue an uncompromising progressive agenda with its research in mind emulation, uploading, and resleeving, as well as infomorph ego simulation. Rumours persist that ExoTech continues to carry out research and even production of AGIs.
If you’ve ever uploaded, you probably entrusted your ego to the ExoTech ego bridge gear managing the copying process. If you’ve ever run as an infomorph, your digital substrate was likely based on ExoTech code. Your muse’s personality? A good chance it was programmed by ExoTech engineers. If you’re an AGI, ExoTech might even be your virtual creator (especially if you actually grok abstract humour, the ExoTech mindtechs really nailed that one). Their mental interface systems are known for their elegant, attractive designs; they make being a digital person a pleasant experience. There’s a reason the “ExoCult” exists; some people will only use ExoTech wares, even if they’re more expensive. The corp is also really good at sucking their customers into walled gardens and locking them into iterative software ecosystems. Given that it often looks and performs better than open source options, you’re at least getting something for their money.