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Ok then! I've got a machine that can transmute matter to energy, I've got a small-medium sized company that I can use to hide my activities, and I've got a terrible fear of anyone discovering my device and accidentally destroying the world with it. My eventual aim is to be in a position where I can develop global influence and start to effect societal change so humanity can peacefully transition to a post-scarcity world. Don't worry about the later steps to achieve this right now, they'll come up in later questions.

By this point it can be assumed that I've got some 'flexible' accountants, a few good lawyers and a decent business manager, so I don't have to worry about managing my businesses/business expansion. What I do have to worry about now is this:

I've developed a set of companies in a specific sector, but what I need to do is hire a lot of expertise/buy a lot of companies that don't conform to the image my company has. For example: I own a very successful waste treatment business. Buying a tech startup and hiring roboticists almost makes sense. Buying a PR company and hiring a lot of spin doctors? Ok. Bit strange, but we can get round that. Buying an international language school and hiring a horde of sociologists, linguists, diplomats and political scientists to work on hypothetical 'world peace' solutions is a step too far.

This problem arises no matter what my starting business is. If it's a humanitarian concern I need to hire computer scientists and rocket engineers without confusing the public, if it's an underground criminal enterprise I need to hire legitimate and honest citizens for tasks that my 'associates' might find irrelevant.

So my question is this: How can a business executive with unlimited resources hire/buy outside of his business sector for tasks that seem completely unrelated to his business without anyone (public, internal or governmental) wondering why?

Please note: I'm a terrible liar. If someone asks me directly why I'm hiring someone and I haven't got a plausible reason prepared, my secret is out.

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  • $\begingroup$ So you can produces energy. And you want to keep how it is produced a secret. How can you hide that you're producing energy withou using it yourself ? What do you do with that energy ? And also what kind of tasks would the man have to do ? $\endgroup$ – Kii Nov 9 '15 at 11:16
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think this is really about Worldbuilding. It sounds to me much more plot-oriented, and that's off-topic. $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Nov 9 '15 at 11:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Bilbo_pingouin It's been in the sandbox for three days now. The aim is to create a series of questions on how various plot elements (specifically related to post-scarcity, but usable elsewhere) contribute to a world: This question was intended as 'How can person x manage to get all of these minions in as many diverse job roles as he has with no-one noticing', which I feel is worldbuilding as it's applicable to (and required for) any number of worlds/scenarios in worlds, not just this particular case. Any suggestions on how to make that clearer in the question? $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 9 '15 at 11:33
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    $\begingroup$ "a machine that can transmute matter to energy" - that reminds me of an article I just read: Your AI doesn't Hate You, It Just Wants to Use Your Atoms for Something Else. $\endgroup$ – Hannover Fist Nov 9 '15 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ Honestly, with a machine that can scan you and create a clone of you-when-scanned-yourself, you effectively cease ageing. Just do your own dirty work using clones and cosmetic surgery. $\endgroup$ – Roland Heath Nov 9 '15 at 22:48
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In a nutshell: You carefully construct a public "you" for whom all of those ventures make sense. From hobbies/passions to defining moments, you engineer the story of "you".

Buying into Tech: it's your passion!

Fortunately for you, Silicon Valley has brought the world a string of high-profile tech billionaires that sink their money into ambitious projects out of passion. All those private space companies are a great example, and education is in the news all the time at the moment, but don't discount the forays into humanitarian aid, disease eradication efforts, etc. Use this as your reason to get into advanced tech beyond the robotics/automation/communication that make sense for your business already. Think back to what inspired you when you grew up, and tweak that story to fit your target tech. Practice speaking about this with your most trusted advisors, until it sounds natural and you can express the feeling (think of your real invention/inspiration and you'll radiate that passion).

Buying into PR/Lobbying: you had a defining moment!

This is the hardest one, as you need to plan, prepare and execute one or more events in your life, without that being detected when reporters inevitably start digging into your life and background. You'll need some tragic event that made "you" feel it could have been prevented if only some law/policy/public opinion were different. "You" then set out to make that change by hiring a PR Company etc.

If something tragic already happened in your personal life that fits the bill, make full use of that. Uncle got shot in a robbery? Sick parent got bankrupted by hospital bills? A friend got assaulted because of their (...)? Of course, odds are that nothing quite so useful happened... yet. Time to prepare something of your own then.

Note: Depending on your morals, arranging for a personal tragedy could get very ugly. I'm going to assume you reject the option of harming innocent people to provide your defining moment (which would be a defining moment of a very different nature) and will pick a relatively harmless option as example.

Let's go with a popular celebrity option. "You" and your wife/girlfriend want children, but somehow can't have any. So you were working in secret to adopt some photogenic child from a politically and/or geologically unstable country. "You" now feel personally connected to that country and want to improve its lot, so your start supporting NGOs and set up a lobbying company for that.

Buying into international organizations: yay! a natural disaster!

This is preferably a follow-up to your defining moment: "you" feel connected to the people in (location of the disaster) and your conscience doesn't allow you to stand by and do nothing. So you rashly buy up whatever looks useful, send the people over there to help and... fail miserably.

You will be shocked and disappointed that your idealistic intervention didn't achieve its goals. After some public soul-searching, you will start repeating to whomever will listen that it was due to not being properly prepared and not having enough local people with language skills and expertise. You vow to not wait for the next disaster and start laying the groundwork right now, establishing a network of education experts and schools.

Note: Muscling in on post-disaster rescue efforts will result in a clash with existing NGOs. Some may even see you as competition. The initial backlash is helpful for your soul-searching/mea culpa/fixing-it story, but after that you want to play nice with them, as you will want to both recruit their experts for more authority as well as place graduates from your schools into their ranks, to gain more influence in later stages of your plan.

This kind of story should frame all your major acquisitions into a narrative that makes sense to people and doesn't invite undue scrutiny.

The minor excursions from your field of business can be adequately covered by business practices that have well-known precedents. Google with its many employee-driven side projects is a great example. Amazon can't stop itself from trying a new line of business the moment it threatens to become profitable. Need an excuse for a dozen lawyers? Get yourself into a patent lawsuit.

Edit: as mentioned in other answers, diversifying is a valid business strategy in itself, but only if there's a profit to be had (or positive PR), limiting its applications.

Finally, some things you don't need to do yourself. Extend your network and support friends and business partners in their ventures. Learn to play Golf, put money in some investment funds and then invite both the investor and one of your intended recipients to a game or two. They'll get the hint and money will end up where you want it, with you having any hand in it officially.

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    $\begingroup$ Failure as a tool to lay the groundwork of success. An interesting device for establishing a believable world-spanning corporation! $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 9 '15 at 14:43
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Mergers happen (and we don't care)

I am following several marketing guys, so I am going to give you real world example. What does Tchibo make?

You would guess "coffee" most likely. But that is not entire true. As Wikipedia says, they are even in clothing.

You can grow anywhere without people noticing

As long as you pay taxes, obviously. You can turn into multi billion group without anyone being suspicious. Government does not care about your growth as long as you pay taxes.

Keep sending your government taxes, make sure you support the winning party in your country. Make sure your accountant hides source of your huge profits, but not the profits themselves.

Maybe next person you should hire is great therapist who should give your hero consultations about his constant paranoia...

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  • $\begingroup$ Stalking is generally discouraged. :) $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Nov 9 '15 at 13:16
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    $\begingroup$ It's OK, I can just clone them!! cue creepy laughter $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 9 '15 at 14:40
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I am not seeing the problem here. Just set up the different concerns as separate companies or organizations owned and controlled by a management company you own and control yourself. While it would indeed be weird and impractical for one company to try to diversify into basically everything, there is nothing odd about diversifying your investments and even including some non-profitable "charity" investments.

In fact it is generally seen as smart to diversify investments to different sectors as it improves your resistance to market fluctuations. Similarly spending some set portion of your income on public benefit projects is perfectly valid corporate strategy. Your image has real business value after all.

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