In Rulers of the Sea gamers play with a family, and each family can have a family business. This family business can be one of many business types, ranging from mining, farming, manufacturing, trading, shipping, fishing, whaling, crafting, building, hospitality, entertainment, healthcare, publishing, and many more.
All businesses are different but they share one characteristic: they need to be managed. Staff needs to be recruited and managed, resources need to be purchased, production need to be directed, stock needs to be transported and sold, facilities need to be optimized, books need to be balanced, loans acquired. Running a business can be very profitable but it takes attention to maintain and increase that profit. The gamer character that runs the business on behalf of the family is the Director. This character needs a certification to manage a specific business type which can be acquired at a University.
Gamers of the Nobility can start a Joint Stock Company, this is a collection of businesses. The manager of the Joint Stock Company is the Director-General and the size of the Joint Stock Company depends on the highest noble rank within the family that owns it. The Director-General runs all the businesses, which all have their own Director. These Directors can be npc characters (computer run) or actual gamers that are paid a wage for their efforts.
It is possible for a Joint Stock Company to buy a single business from another family, at which point it is possible for its Director to stay on as manager and shareholder. It is also possible for Joint Stock Companies to employ gamer Directors and Director-Generals to run the business. The Shareholders with 5% or more of the stocks can join the vote to appoint or dismiss the Director-General of the Joint Stock Company.
Joint Stock Companies are complex and have to be specialized in one of thirteen different business lines. Their managers need the right experience and certificates to run them. Computer operated (npc) Directors will carry out their tasks according to configurable settings but gamer Directors can outperform them easily.
A gamer character that has a job as Director or Director-General of a Joint Stock Company cannot have another career simultaneously. Professional managers can specialize in different business-types and hire themselves out to Joint Stock Companies. Joint Stock Companies can place adds for managers in the national newspaper.