Mike Merrill sells himself

A graph showing how the price of Merrill's stocks have changed over time.

by Sophie Streiff

The stock market is a world of ups and downs. Many things are invested into stocks, like time, effort, and money. On January 26, 2008, Mike Merrill, a customer service representative in Portland, Oregon, chose to allow people to invest in stocks of himself.

At first, 100,000 shares of himself were offered to the public for 1 dollar each. In just 10 days 929 stocks were bought. Even though Merrill still held a very large part of himself, Merrill decided that those who had purchased the stocks would be able to control what he did with his life.

From decisions such as going to the gym or getting a vasectomy, the stockholders had control. Yet as 128 more people added onto the original twelve friends and acquaintances, Merrill soon learned that not everyone was looking out for his well-being in the long run. Some of the stockholders could push for decisions to be made that were not advisable, like changing his sleep schedule so Merrill no longer slept through the night. The ideas could seem amusing at the time, but in the end they could hurt Merrill.

People with large shares have more push and pull to decisions than others. For example, if there are several people with five hundred shares, each, among a large group where most people have one or two shares, those with the five hundred could potentially control everything that Merrill did. Those with fewer votes could have a say, but not one that really impacted the final decision.

Merrill created a website to help the shareholders and those that are interested in what he was doing. There, people can buy more shares, trade shares, vote on actions that Merrill undertakes, and look at the stock history.

With the polls that Merrill posts, people can see the kind of decisions that the shareholders have to make. Yet in the end, the decisions can be both beneficial to Merrill and the shareholders even if the end decision is a personal decision.

“I figured they’d make good decisions for me, since they had money on the line and wanted to see their investment appreciate,” said Merrill.

After Merrill and his ex-girlfriend Marijke Dixon ended their relationship, Merrill posted a poll on his website asking the shareholders if he should sign a Mutual Release and Non-Disparagement Agreement, as well as if they would buy out Dixon’s shares. Even with five days left on the poll, it quickly jumped up to “yes,” and Dixon’s shares were purchased as well.

In all, Merrill still has his stocks going well and people thoroughly enjoy making his decisions. It does not seem like Merrill and his shareholders are going away anytime soon.

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