Portland man sells himself to shareholders

The 35-year-old offers a share of his life and his career potential on his own exchange for about $13.70.

By Kim Peterson Apr 1, 2013 2:05PM
Image: Stock market report (© ULTRA.F/Digital Vision/Getty Images)Would you buy stock in someone's life? One man has been selling shares of himself for years, letting shareholders vote in the major decisions in his life.

As a result, shareholders have changed Mike Merrill from a Democrat into a Republican and from a meat-eater into a vegetarian. They advised him against a vasectomy and dictated his dating life.

And his shares are still going strong -- currently about $13.70 on his own personal exchange. You can invest by sending him money through Paypal, owned by eBay (EBAY).

It all started in 2008, when Merrill, then 30, put 100,000 shares of himself up for bidding at $1 a share. Shareholders were promised a cut of any profits Mike made outside of his day job as a customer-service rep in Portland, Ore., Wired reports.

He sold 929 shares over the next 10 days, getting some extra cash and perhaps something he didn't anticipate: Those shareholders began watching their investment closely, and wanted a say in his life. "I figured they’d make good decisions for me, since they had money on the line and wanted to see their investment appreciate," he told Wired.

That didn't sit so well with his girlfriend, who found she didn't have as much of a presence in his life anymore. His answer to her complaints? "Buy more shares." They've since broken up.

Strangers got wind of Merrill's idea and jumped in, bidding up the share price along the way. A spate of recent press coverage and an appearance on the "Today" show have brought Merrill and his one-man exchange a lot of attention.

That's generated some confusion and skepticism, and Merrill tries to explain a bit on his blog: "People buy in because it’s fun! I try to keep it fun for them. I appreciate that they want to take part and I work to live up to those expectations."

More on moneyNOW

Tags: EBAY
Apr 1, 2013 8:43PM
Apr 1, 2013 2:52PM
Apr 1, 2013 9:28PM
The guy will be sorry if he wins the lotto and the winnings go to his shareholders.
Apr 1, 2013 4:33PM
Ingenious! Can I make a leveraged buyout of the other stock holders? I need a slave.
Apr 1, 2013 3:07PM
I have some special rocks I need to unload real cheap.
Apr 1, 2013 9:52PM
All he has to do is use the proceeds to buy more shares for himself, keeping himself as the major stock holder. He then could do what he wants.
Read about the next Ponzi scheme....
Apr 1, 2013 10:06PM

They make his decisions for him?!! Put this up for a vote: boxers, briefs or diapers. 

Apr 1, 2013 9:20PM
Apr 1, 2013 5:14PM
Calling PT Barnum, calling PT Barnum...Hello PT, ? "Wait until you hear about this,there is this guy..."
Apr 1, 2013 3:10PM
Actually David Bowie sold his lifetime income stream from his music recordings for $50 million a few years ago.
Apr 1, 2013 9:15PM
Wall Street is sooo jealous. Probably going to sue him soon for infringing on their methods.
Apr 1, 2013 10:20PM

If I were him I wouldn't vote.  If he does vote, he could probably land in jail for taking bribes for votes.

Apr 1, 2013 10:17PM

This is hilarious!  Buy shares and start living vicariously through someone else!

Apr 1, 2013 10:22PM
Not much different from having a job and a marraige, right? Just a few less shareholders that get to tell you what to do.
Apr 1, 2013 10:18PM
Now why didn't I think of that? LOL
Apr 1, 2013 10:58PM

I suppose I would have to buy in to find out, but I wonder if his soul was part of the package. Does Mr. Merrill have a private, not for sale part of his life or did he sell out part and parcel? If he were to meet Ms Right does he have a right to buy himself back? If he becomes noncompliant, sick and /or boring will his stock fail? What will that mean to him? Will he have to liquidate himself to satisfy blood thirsty investors or become invisible to escape his self-conceived persona. Good luck to you, Mr. Merrill, you are going to need it.

Apr 2, 2013 1:42AM
Would like to know if any dividends are paid out and if the stocks will ever split.
Apr 2, 2013 1:09AM

Think about this folks...He put 100,000 hsares on the market, it is now trading at $13.75 per share... that's $1,375,000 ...??? Not bad!! Blessings on ya <><


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