How to Let Strangers Decide If You Should Get a Vasectomy

man-human-ipoWay back in 2008, I wrote a blog entry called, I Own That Guy’s Arm. In it I proposed that I launch an IPO for myself, letting investors purchase shares in me and have a say in the choices I make on a daily basis. The benefit for the investors is that they could make a profit if I were to gain value over time.

Little did I know that right around the same time a person named Mike Merrill actually did sell shares in himself. He put 100,000 shares of himself on the open market, and 929 of them were purchased by friends and family at $1 each.

If you have a few minutes, click over to that article on It’s a fascinating and humorous article about what happened after Mike started letting shareholders vote on his day-to-day decisions. Here are a few examples of what happened:

  • Mike’s girlfriend owned only 19 out of the 929 shares, so she had no control over Mike’s decisions. She was relieved when a proposal for Mike to get a vasectomy was voted down.
  • Shareholders voted for Mike to try something called polyphasic sleeping, or sleeping in small increments of time instead of big chunks. This happens to be exactly what Kramer attempted on an episode of Seinfeld.
  • After Mike’s first girlfriend inevitably left him, the shareholders voted for him to start dating again. His new girlfriend wisely asked for stock options.

The whole article is written with a wink at the reader, but I do think the premise has promise, particularly for students. Several sites have sprung up recently that let you invest in a student and reap dividends over time when that student graduates and starts a career (I wrote about one of those sites here).

But this case is much more about crowdsourcing control of your decisions. Do you ever tap into the crowd for important decisions? What types of things do you ask people to weigh in on? Are there certain things you would ask if those people had a financial stake in the results opposed to random Facebook curiosity? If your spouse or partner was at the whim of the crowd, would you try to purchase some shares?

2 thoughts on “How to Let Strangers Decide If You Should Get a Vasectomy”

  1. The idea and the Wired article were interesting, but I think that guy might be the worst boyfriend ever. I can’t believe she stayed with him for as long as she did, knowing that he was allowing perfect strangers to make life-changing decisions for him that impacted her as well. At least the second girlfriend knew what she was potentially getting herself into.

    Also, I think you’re asking for trouble when you pledge to give people you don’t know part of your life insurance settlement if you die. I wonder who was coming up with these topics to vote on? I don’t think I remember the article explaining that part. Was it Mike, or was he taking suggestions from his stock holders and choosing which things they could vote on?

    • I definitely agree that he was probably the worst boyfriend ever. Who does that to someone you’ve dated for two and a half years?!

      Agreed on the life insurance too. That’s just asking for trouble. I think both Mike and the shareholders had the ability to propose topics (Mike being a shareholder himself).


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