A syndicate is a self-organizing group of individuals, companies, corporations or entities formed to transact some specific business, to pursue or promote a shared interest. In most cases formed groups aim to scale up their profits. Although there are many legal syndicates formed around the world, the usage of the term "the syndicate" in colloquial English often refers to one involved in illegal activities.
The term is also associated with anarchist theory, specifically anarcho-syndicalism, in which it forms an alternative to both the nation state and capitalist corporations.
The word syndicate comes from the French word syndicat which means trade union (syndic meaning administrator), from the Latin word syndicus which in turn comes from the Greek word σύνδικος (syndikos), which means caretaker of an issue; compare to ombudsman or representative.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines syndicate as a group of people or businesses that work together as a team. This may be a council or body or association of people or an association of concerns, officially authorized to undertake a duty or negotiate business with an office or jurisdiction. It may mean an association of racketeers in organized crime. It may refer to a business concern that sells materials for publication (newspaper, radio, TV, internet) in a number of outlets simultaneously, or a group of newspapers under one management.
In the case of criminal activity, the syndicate is there to promote, and engage in, organized crime, that is, organizations which run common illegal businesses on a large, national, or international scale. The subunit of the syndicate is a crime family or clan, organized by blood relationships, as seen in the Italian Mafia and the Italian American Mafia crime families (the Five Families dominating New York City crime, namely, the Gambino crime family, Genovese crime family, Lucchese crime family, Bonanno crime family, and the Colombo crime family).
In media, syndicates are organizations by name and credit. For example, BBC Radio International is a radio syndicated business. A news ticker, residing in the lower third of the television screen image, usually shows syndicated news stories.
A group formed of several business entities, like companies or corporations, which share common interests in a market but usually are not direct competitors. Larger companies or corporations form syndicates to strengthen their position in the market. Internet companies and corporations, focusing on various Internet ventures, tend to form syndicates within their own group, with direct competitors involved. In such cases, they share a certain type of market, like brand management or search engine optimization, and usually form a Conglomerate Syndicate. They may be syndicated nationally or internationally.
In finance, a bank syndicate, often referred to simply as a syndicate, is a group of banks lending a usually large amount of money for a specific purpose and to one single borrower. Syndicated loans are loans underwritten by a bank syndicate and are more common in the US, where financial markets are in corporate ownership rather than private equity markets as in Europe or South America.
Anarchists, syndicalists, and other libertarian socialists use the word "syndicate" to refer to an enterprise managed by its workers. Such an enterprise is governed by a face-to-face meeting of everyone who works there, in which each worker has one vote. Either there are no managers, or the managers are directly elected and recallable. In either case, the most important decisions are made collectively by the whole workforce. This is known as workers' self-management. A worker's syndicate can also mean a trade union.
Lottery syndicates are formed to pool tickets thus increasing the chances of winning. Lottery syndicates are more common in the UK and Europe in general. They are legal in the US, but legal problems are regularly reported
In Australia Lottery Syndicates are sold in store, by newsagents and lottery retailers. Online Line lottery syndicates have also increased in popularity and are sold in shares by online licensed agents, Netlotto and Ozlotteries
Researchers argue that syndicates may reduce the potential for market failure in crowdfunding, a method that allows creators to raise funds for projects from many different investors through online platforms. Equity crowdfunding allows creators to issue equity to investors when they make an investment in the project. In equity crowdfunding, information asymmetry between the creator and investor may result in a variety of problems and, in some cases, market failure.
A syndicate can be started by an individual, angel investor, or venture capitalist. An individual who wants to form a syndicate creates an investment strategy and discloses it on a crowdfunding platform. Other investors can choose to back the individual, who is the leader. The backing investors must follow the leader’s investment strategy and pay them a fee. Syndicates do not exist on all equity crowdfunding platforms.