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line for the massive transnational megacorp dinosaurs, financial giants that supported their monolithic frameworks on outdated economic models and industrial technologies.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 humanity’s expansion into space and who continue to push the technological envelope, guiding transhumanity towards new horizons—always with proi t 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 labor or production services. The need for physical labor has mostly been reduced to tasks associated with habitat construction 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 i elds 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 centers, 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 favor of staff polling/voting initiatives that statistically fare better. A few are anarcho-capitalist companies originating from Extropian enclaves, though these often suffer from a bias when making deals with inner system powers. The solar system boasts thousands of hypercorps; a few of the more prominent and interesting are noted below
A pioneer in the field of cognitive science, Cognite (pronounced cog-neet) drives forward the cutting edge of research into understanding the transhuman mind. Most 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 rumors that they engage in research involving TITAN-influenced incapacitating input attacks. Nevertheless they remain a key member in the Planetary Consortium.
COMET EXPRESS (COMEX)
Comet Express specializes in delivery services, interstellar logistics, supply chains, and shipping. They maintain a presence on almost every transhuman habitat in the solar system, often via local subcontractors. Despite the wonders of nanofabrication, many resources must still be imported. ComEx focuses on managing supply and trade routes and making sure physical shipments reach their destinations. For that purpose, ComEx maintains orbital hubs equipped with slingshot accelerators at strategic waypoints throughout the system and a fleet of cargo vessels and courier drones. For reasons unknown to the public, ComEx is viewed with hostility by the Jovian Republic, who have standing orders to shoot down ComEx vessels.
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: Environmental Systems, Genetics
Major Stations: McClintock (Mars orbit)
Ecologene specializes in living systems, environmental genetics (with a specialty in insects), smart animals, bio-architecture, and environmental nanotech. They design and maintain the ecosystems inside numerous habitats and tunnel colonies. One of Ecologene’s notable projects is building and maintaining a massive genetics archive of all life forms, though this endeavor was nearly crippled by the Fall. For unknown reasons, Ecologene seems to be favored by the Factors. Some speculate that Ecologene has some sort of blackmail material in hand, while others believe Ecologene is trading away transhumanity’s genetic secrets in exchange for a few xeno-tech gifts.
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. Rumors persist that ExoTech continues to carry out research and even production of AGIs.
Major Industries: Media (AR, VR, XP), News, Entertainment, Memetics
Major Stations: Elysium (Mars)
Living up to its name, Experia dominates the solar system’s news, media, and entertainment market segments, generating controversy not only with its publicly expressed pro-AI stance or inviting an AGI to its board of directors, but also by proficient use of hyperviral marketing and sophisticated XP-programming. Another core segment is the production of educational XP and infomorph or AI tutors, some of the latter regularly ascending to pop-culture icon status. Experia is the Planetary Consortium’s prime authority on designing and deploying customized viral memes, developed to counter anything posing a threat to the Consortium’s interests. The corp has automated nodes and VR centers on many habitats throughout the solar system, and it contracts thousands of freelance lifeloggers as live, roving, citizen journalists. Claims by some infomorphs that Experia has illegally subjected indentured infomorphs to never-ending simulation experiments for forecasting and intelligence analysis purposes remain unsubstantiated.
Major Industries: Mining, Energy, Biotech, Industrial Manufacturing
Major Stations: New Dazhai (Mars)
The industrial giant Fa Jing is a powerhouse in the mining and energy production markets and also boasts a remarkable presence in the fields of biotech and industrial equipment manufacturing. The former megacorp has quickly adapted to the new economic environments and reputation-based systems, thanks partly to its dedication to network building and sharing social responsibility, epitomized in concepts like dàtóng and guanxi. Often considered insular and close-minded, its internal communal and protective mindset is a strong contrast to its manipulating and monopolist business attitude. Fa Jing is engaged in mining operations throughout the asteroid belt and the Trojans and maintains significant corporate assets on Mars.
Major Industries: Gatecrashing, Research, XP Media, Exoplanet Colonization
Major Stations: Gateway (Pandora)
Initially born from the merger of several scientific institutions and their corporate i nanciers, this hypercorp made a name for itself overnight when it announced the successful decoding of the wormhole gateway discovered on Saturn’s moon Pandora. Under the leadership of the eccentric but charismatic xenoarcheologist Xander Rabin, the consortium funds gatecrasher explorations through the Pandora gate, paying a small share of the revenue to the explorers but otherwise retaining all-encompassing rights on any discoveries made—as well as the marketing and distribution of the highly popular gatecrasher XP recordings. Aside from scheduled explorations, the consortium offers high-risk gatecrasher scouting and discovery trips for the bold or desperate, selected through a random lottery system.
Major Industries: Banking, Agritech, Robotics, Services
Major Stations: Tsukomo (Luna)
Considered a relic of Earth’s capitalist market economy, the Go-nin Group is a traditional Japanese keiretsu, a conglomerate of companies with interwoven relationships and shareholdings, horizontally-integrated across several industries (and sometimes vertically-integrated within a business sector as well), and centered around the long-lived Tamahashi enterprise consultancy i rm. Tamahashi evolved from an influential corporate lobby to a diversified bank holding major equity in the group’s partners; it now controls the group’s assets and directs the partnership’s overall business strategy. Through its member corps, the Go-nin Group has a sizable presence throughout the entire system and—without dominating a specific industry—own significant market share in fields such as banking, agritech, robotics, and services. Any difficulties in adapting to evolving economic models due
to its rigid structure are compensated by unscrupulous exploitative behavior and a bottom-line attitude, earning the group the reputation as the most ruthless hypercorp of the inner system. Go-nin currently controls a Pandora Gate on Eris, secured by a contingent of ultimate mercenaries.
GORGON DEFENSE SYSTEMS
Major Industries: Miltech, Security, Military Contracting
Major Stations: Extropia
Gorgon is one of the most significant Extropian success stories. Based out of the anarcho-capitalist freehold, Gorgon has become a major name in the design and manufacture of weapons, vehicles, sensors, and other defense technologies. Their product range includes personal weapon systems, spacecraft armaments, and habitat defense systems. While prominent in the inner system, Gorgon is also one of the main arms suppliers to autonomist and brinker stations. Their subsidiary Medusan Shield offers private security services in direct competition to Direct Action. While DirAct is known for its expertly trained soldiers, Medusan Shield is known for their elite cadre of highly trained and aesthetically enhanced female combat morphs. It is suspected that several prominent assassinations have been the work of agents contracted through Medusan Shield.
Major Industries: Electronics, Mesh Systems, Farcasting, Communications
Major Stations: Octavia (Venus)
Nimbus produces key components for mesh infrastructure, from spime microradio and sensor systems to ectos, servers, and laser links. Nimbus also dominates the network of farcaster links throughout the system, due to several breakthroughs in this technology (some claim that Nimbus purchased these advances from the Factors). Rumors that Nimbus controls a secret Pandora Gate or that they engage in illicit ego-smuggling (or even that they are secretly transferring stolen egos to experimental exoplanet colonies) regularly circulate through the mesh, but remain unconfirmed.
A descendant of the pre-Fall megacorporate giant Monolith Industries, Omnicor specializes in the fields of nanotech design and fabrication, chemical refining, alternative fuel, and antimatter research. Omnicor managed to secure research-oriented key assets from its twin rival Starware in a violent conflict during the Fall, leading to an ongoing enmity that might be better termed a corporate war. Despite its progressive technological outlook, Omnicor retains a conservative corporate structure with strict internal regulations and controls as a defense against Starware’s repeated infiltration and sabotage attempts. Among the hypercorp’s major assets are an antimatter research facility orbiting Mercury.
Major Industries: Exoplanet Colonization, Mining, Research
Major Stations: Ma’adim Vallis (Mars)
Pathfinder is one of the first hypercorps to dive into galactic expansion, claiming new territories beyond the Pandora gates and establishing numerous colonies. Taking advantage of desperate infugees and gatecrashers, Pathfinder offers transportation to an exoplanet and a new morph in exchange for indentured labor. The corp has established several off-world mining and resource exploitation projects, much to the chagrin of preservationists. Though Pathfinder has but a small presence in the solar system, it is a frequent target of eco-terrorist attacks.
The Prosperity Group ascended into the hypercorp ranks before the Fall, meeting the high demand many new stations had for microgravity agritech, aquaculture, hydroponics, and other sources of food. Expanding into pharmaceuticals as well, Prosperity is considered the lead supplier for the poor man’s food and drugs. Their cultured faux-meats and protein-enriched nutrition additives are in high demand. This corp earned some sympathy when it lost an entire habitat to some sort of resurgent TITAN outbreak a few years after the Fall, though some have suggested this was just a cover story to hide an unfortunate accident resulting from experimental drug testing on an unwitting populace.
Major Industries: Genetics, Cloning, Biotech
Major Stations: Ptah (Mars)
As the leading designer of biomorphs, Skineasthesia enjoys system wide popularity and respect for its sophisticated products, especially high-end customized models. Best known for its breakthroughs in genetic engineering and enhancements, the hypercorp’s interest in sophisticated combat morphs or stylized pleasure pods are lesser known facts and often sold through a network of seemingly unafi liated shell corporations or local distributors. Skinaesthesia focuses on emphasizing environmental adaptations and useful cybernetic enhancements, increasing transhumanity’s chances for survival and further prosperity. Experimental morphs are sometimes offered to desperate infugees for field testing.
Major Industries: Genetics, Cloning, Biotech
Major Stations: Extropia
Skinthetic is also a lead designer of morphs, but with a much sleazier reputation and not just because of their anarcho-capitalist roots. Specializing in extensive and often radical bio-modii cations, the hypercorp pushes the envelope in exotic pod and biomorph designs under the mantle of morphological freedom. Bioconservatives have condemned the corporation’s business practices and ethics and have even leveled accusations that Skinthetic is experimenting with xenogenetic materials acquired from the Factors. Skinthetic’s cavalier attitude actually makes them popular in many parts of the outer system, and they are know as the biotech corp to go to if you want something weird.
Major Industries: Banking, Insurance, Investments, Futures Markets, Info Brokerage
Major Stations: None
Solaris is the solar system’s leading banking and financial investment hypercorp, dealing in insurances, info-brokerage, and high-risk investments on cultural and social experimental speculation. A member of the Planetary Consortium, Solaris advises many habitats on regulating their transitional economies. Solaris has no offices or physical assets; each banker is a mobile virtual office. Solaris is rumored to maintain a secret base where the corporation runs simulations on the development of the entire solar system’s macro-economy, constantly adjusting its own strategies based on the dynamics of this big blueprint. Fueling these rumors, Solaris is known to hire “independent consultants” to tip the balance in politically or economically profitable high-risk investments.
Major Industries: Uplifts, Pharming, Pharmaceuticals, Genetics
Major Stations: Clever Hands (Luna)
Somatek is a leader in the art and science of uplifting animal species, pioneering several major breakthroughs in cognitive enhancement and genetic modification. The hypercorp also engages in extensive animal pharming—producing and extracting pharmaceuticals from transgenic critters—and markets numerous products and services related to smart animals and chimerical creatures. Despite the educational and training programs it offers to uplifts and the fact that much of its workforce consists of uplifts, Somatek is controversial among mercurials who disapprove of their methods (which often involve strict controls on uplift reproduction), the lack of input uplifts are given in their modifications and development, and the focus on anthropocentric mind-sets “enforced” on uplifts.)
Another remnant of the pre-Fall megacorp Monolith Industries (like Omnicor), Starware is a leading manufacturer of robotics, spacecraft fusion drives, satellites, and entire pre-fab habitats. Despite its financial success and resources, Starware’s ongoing blood feud with Omnicor denies both corporations full membership privileges on the Planetary Consortium. Starware makes heavy use of AI workers in robotic shells, having suffered a few too many labor disputes with disgruntled Lunar workers. In fact Starware grows increasingly unpopular with its Lunar neighbors, and has been forced to bring in extra security due to frequent sabotage attempts. Recent negotiations with the Factors have spurred theories that Starware might be acquiring Factor aid for building a lighthugger starship.
Major Industries: Intelligence, Data Mining, Info Brokerage, Espionage
Major Stations: Memory Hole Torus (Martian Trojans)
Born from the ashes of the UN-governed Terran Intelligence Cooperative (TIC), its surviving personnel and assets were collectively uploaded during the Fall and quickly regrouped under the name Stellar Intelligence. Emerging as a virtual collective, most of Stellar’s employees remain loyal to the corporation and its director, the reclusive infomorph known as Syme. Stellar offers an impressive array of intelligence services, including data mining, analyst think tanks, retro-quantification (bringing old secrets/data to light), memetic mapping, and more. Its services also extend to surveillance, data theft, espionage, media manipulation, and infiltration. The hypercorp’s specialty is pre-empting civil insurgencies and preventing political memes and movements from destabilizing a habitat’s or sector’s regime. Criticized by civil rights movements and especially anarchists, Stellar is known to embed programmed infomorph agents into the local population of any oppressive regime that will pay their price. While many view Stellar as the brainwashing and secret police arm of the Planetary Consortium, the hypercorp offers its services to almost any other faction or individual.
Built from the remains of several pre-Fall South African and Southeast Asian corporations who engaged
in geo-engineering projects and sought to relieve Earth’s ecological crises, TerraGenesis’s expertise is in developing sustainable biospheres and eco-systems via aggressive industrialized terraforming. TerraGenesis is different in that it is a worker-owned cooperative, with workplace councils in local offices and an elected cooperative congress handling management. It maintains several habitats on Mars and a small number of research stations in orbit around Earth, collecting data for simulations of Earth revitalization projects. The latter initiative is strongly supported—and possibly financed—by prominent reclaimers. TerraGenesis’s work on Mars, however, is often targeted by preservationist saboteurs. Thanks to their possession of the Vulcanoid Pandora Gate , the cooperative has a growing presence on various exoplanets that are ripe for terraforming or geoengineering.