I’ll admit, I am getting slightly addicted to Evemaps these days; it's the site with the most accurate information on what’s going on in New Eden in terms of sovereignty, alliances, corps and such. The ebb and flow of the never ending New Eden wars are reflected on evemaps: alliances losing sov and bleeding members while others surge. When an alliance or corp is struggling, evemaps is the place where this becomes mercilessly visible.
Having been part of a failscading powerbloc once, I’m always kind of interested to learn what happens to the corps who leave an alliance. Where do they go? Evemaps, ever helpfully, provides this information in the list of former corps for an alliance: if the departed corps have joined a new alliance, it is visible there.
Surprisingly, if you take a look at that list, many corps never join a new alliance after leaving one. Whether they left their previous alliance on their own accord of were forced out I don’t know; whether that alliance failscaded or just somehow faded (as happens to highsec carebear alliances sometimes) I don’t know either. But the fact remains, that hundreds, if not thousands, of corps (and their pilots!) once were part of an alliance but are now alone.
Take another look at a list of former corps (for instance that of LEGIO) and sort it by member. A new pattern emerges: the largest corps who’ve left LEGIO in the past, have found a new home in another alliance. Many corps who haven’t, currently have single digit membership numbers. And at the bottom, there’s a set of corps who haven’t survived; they are dead. I have checked this for several other alliances, and it’s not always a given, but as a rule of thumb, the bigger corps are more likely to be part of a new alliance when compared with the smaller ones.
I can think of several reasons for this pattern. A corp may lose members when it fails to provide it’s members with access to nullsec, wh space or other lucrative resources or fun activities, for a prolonged period of time; in the end, only a few inactive pilots and a handfull of die hards will remain. Or, when you are already a small corp, it may be more difficult to be accepted into a new alliance, as your size makes it less likely that you’ll provide added value to a new host alliance.
For any pilot involved in corp leadership, there are useful lessons to be learned here. Whenever you find your corp without an alliance, make it a priority to find a new, suitable one as soon as possible (without compromising on the ‘suitable’ part of course). And second: make sure you have enough good, active pilots, in order to provide added value to your (prospective) alliance.
For a regular corp member, there's something to learn as well. If your corp is no longer part of an alliance, and leadership isn't doing their utter best to correct that situation, the long term viability of your corp may be in danger. It would be wise to keep an eye out for alternatives.
Finally, I have - a while ago - checked up on several corps we were once in an alliance with. Most of seem to suffer from a low level of activity, even when they still hold a reasonable membership number. Eve is still a game, and when that game becomes less fun because the alliance or corp isn't functioning well, people will login less too; after a while they will probably unsub. Many of these corps are in a slow decline towards death, taking an unknown number of subscriptions with them.
In this regard, CCP is more or less dependent on the player corps and alliances (overwhelmingly run by well meaning amateurs, I might add) to keep the pilots engaged and active, and hence, CCP's business afloat. What a scary thought..
(2012-01-27 made some small editorial changes; content didn't change - Sered)