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The Man Who Sold Shares of Himself

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the social-experiments-gone-awry dept.

The Almighty Buck 215

RougeFemme writes "This is a fascinating story about a man who sold shares in himself, primarily to fund his start-up ideas. He ran into the same issues that companies run into when taking on corporate funding — except that in his case, the decisions made by his shareholders bled over into his personal life. This incuded his relationship with his now ex-girlfriend, who became a shareholder activist over the issue of whether or not he should have a vasectomy. The experiment continues." The perils of selling yourself to your friends.

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215 comments

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he should... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304041)

He should sell some shares of himself to a cannibal ....

Re:he should... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304669)

I think he did that by selling to his GF...

Ducking for cover and posting as a coward!

I hate people (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304071)

nt

Slavery? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304083)

How is this different from slavery?

Re:Slavery? (2, Insightful)

wjousts (1529427) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304089)

Well, I guess it voluntary.

Re:Slavery? (1)

lurker1997 (2005954) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304115)

Didn't read the article but basically it is the same as taking a loan from a bank. You have to give some of your future earnings to someone else.

Re:Slavery? (3, Insightful)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304223)

Key differences from a bank loan:
(a) you may never be able to pay it back, since the more wealth and willingness you have to buy back outstanding shares and "go private," the more those shares are likely to cost, and
(b) the bank doesn't make detailed decisions about how you live your life; only that you must pay back $XX every month (regardless of how you get it)

Re:Slavery? (5, Informative)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304141)

Actually, in it's earlier forms (especially in Rome) slavery could in fact be voluntary. People actually were able to sell themselves into slavery, usually to pay a debt. Of course, back then slaves weren't really as exploited as they were in more modern times and one could even buy themselves out of slavery if the made enough money. A lot of slaves weren't just free/cheap labor, they became skilled craftsmen and could make a decent amount of money on the side. Or there was always the gladiatorial games if you were really desperate, since those rarely ended in death.

Re:Slavery? (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304301)

Of course, back then slaves weren't really as exploited as they were in more modern times and one could even buy themselves out of slavery if the made enough money

Slavery from those two time periods certainly had differences, but I don't think it rises to the levels where you can consider them different institutions. In the US when slavery was legal, there were many cases of men buying their freedom from their owners.

One of the reasons we may not hear about as much abuse/exploitation from ancient times was because if your society did not consider an action (such as sleeping with your slaves) to be an abuse, it simply wasn't debated as it wasn't interesting, no more than buying vegetables from the local market was something for debate.

Re:Slavery? (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304501)

Well it would not be abuse... Prostitution was legal, and if you are a slave you cannot object to the type of labour your owner asks of you (within legal bounds at least).

Theoretically you could come up with a slavery contract that restricted what the owner could ask you to do and when and how much, but at what point would that still be called slavery?
If you are a slave, but only plant and harvest cotton, and only from 9 to 5, 5 days a week. then you are just a contracted worker who is paid upfront.

Re:Slavery? (4, Interesting)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304961)

Theoretically you could come up with a slavery contract that restricted what the owner could ask you to do and when and how much, but at what point would that still be called slavery?

Conversely, at what point could employment conditions in the industrial world, where the threat of being fired is like the threat of losing access to healthcare or even losing your home, be called a slow, steady return to the servile state? In the Roman republic, the working poor largely chose to work as what we would call day laborers. Workers would hang out near the forum (they didn't have a Home Depot, or I suppose a Domus Depositum back then, the savages) and wait for someone to come hire them for the day. One of the most common jobs was simply carrying goods, mostly building material, from the outer to the inner parts of town since ox carts were forbidden in town. You'd get a flat wage for the work once the day was done and you'd likely work for someone else entirely the next day. I forget the exact calculations, but once the public grain dole was in place an unskilled laborer could make a living for himself and his family by securing such work for about 100 days out of the year. You wouldn't get rich but you'd have food in your stomach and enough money to rent an apartment in one of the massive apartment blocks (insulae). This was considered a preferable form of unskilled labor for many because there was a stigma attached to regular employment, i.e. going to work for the same person day after day, and taking his orders, looked too much like slavery.

Re:Slavery? (5, Interesting)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305039)

In my opinion, that is one of major downfalls of living in civilization that has outlawed slavery. It becomes far harder, if not impossible, to tell if you are a slave or not.

Re:Slavery? (0)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305099)

I think they are very different institutions, and very different things.

In one you have people owning people.
In another you have people owning non-human animals. Black slavery was not really slavery, as the blacks where not considered people to begin with.

Re:Slavery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43305045)

Slavery was just as brutal back then as it was in the 1800s.

Re:Slavery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43305107)

It'd be more apt to call the ancient Roman system bondage, since slavery has a lot of modern connotations that lead to misconceptions.

Slavery and Exploitation (3, Interesting)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305145)

Indeed many did choose to sell themselves into slavery, or their children, in order to secure a better life than they could make on their own. Slaves very often lived better off than the unskilled poor, and they weren't likely to be found starving on the street. To say they weren't as exploited as in modern times, however, is something I would hesitate to do. I suppose it depends on your definition of exploitation. In the end, the pater familias had the power of life and death over his household. He could even kill one of his own sons (though this was rarely done in later times), so a slave who was on his bad side much to fear. Sure, some bought their way to freedom or even pleased their masters so much that freedom was given them, but this depended entirely on the good nature of the owners who might just as likely work them to death in the mines. If you've ever heard those stories of the "good" slave owners in the U.S., whose slaves would willingly fight for them or were freed, you will recognize that they're exceptions used to justify a broadly exploitive system. The same applies to Roman slavery. Give that much power to any person and the same results will always show.

Re:Slavery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304199)

http://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_Am13.html?ModPagespeed=noscript

Re:Slavery? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304157)

In just about every way humanly possible (excuse the pun.) For example, he made a decision after weighing various trade-offs and chose to profit in this fashion. Those three boldface words aren't words you would ever use when describing a slave.

Re:Slavery? (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304209)

Slavery does not have to be involuntary, nor non-profitable. As others have pointed out, people in ancient Rome would often sell themselves into slavery for money. Force is not a necessary condition for slavery, although historically it usually is.

Re:Slavery? (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304273)

The difference is the connotation of slavery does include force and non-profitability. When someone says "slavery" in the U.S., the immediate image that comes to mind is the African-American slave on a plantation, not the Roman slave.

Re:Slavery? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304749)

And when someone says global warming or evolution in the US there are other INCORRECT ignorant images that might come to their minds. That does not change the definition of the word.

Re:Slavery? (1)

Yakasha (42321) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304831)

That does not change the definition of the word.

Actually, it does. That is how language evolves. Webster has to print new editions quite often to accommodate the changes. :)

Re:Slavery? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304987)

Yes, but is this case we are not talking about a change of a word, but an ignorant population.
Americans have not changed the definition away from "A person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them.", they simply do not understand slavery.

Re:Slavery? (2)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304291)

Your post is a perfect example of the phrase "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing." More importantly, you haven't addressed what I wrote at all. In this situation he continues to have freedom of choice and to profit. He can choose to get a vasectomy regardless of what the board votes, for example. His stock may plummet, but again he can weigh the trade-offs and choose. Also, while I didn't I use the word force once, I'll accept your subject change and address it since it supports my first sentence in this post. Duress is a form of force. Teach yourself about how and why people "sold themselves" into slavery, and you will quickly find that a form of force known as duress was used every time.

Re:Slavery? (1)

cusco (717999) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304539)

duress was used every time

I suppose, if you consider accumulating a dowry for your daughter or purchasing land for your son to farm as forms of duress. Those wouldn't have been included in my definition, though.

Re:Slavery? (1)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305207)

Maybe not for such instances. Though I honestly have not seen any sources that indicate someone selling himself into slavery to accumulate money for a dowry. But say rather that you are presented with these options: 1) suffer physical violence and possible death for failure to repay debt; 2) starve or see your children starve to save up money to pay the debt; 3) sell yourself into slavery to pay the debt. Would this be included in your definition?

It's a publicity stunt (4, Interesting)

rsilvergun (571051) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304179)

and a funny way to say he borrowed a bit of money. :P. I think upstart.com was mentioned later too. So long as we keep laws in place to give borrowers leverage that's all it'll ever be.

That said, the recent trends in bankruptcy law that make it impossible to discharge debt unless you're rich, plus judges finding debtors in contempt of court for not paying and jailing them (aka debtors prisons 2.0) have me scared. This is all in America of course. We need to start breaking down the excesses of the protestant work ethic. Work ethics are good, but they can also be manipulated and abused.

Re:It's a publicity stunt (0, Troll)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304955)

...bankruptcy law that make it impossible to discharge debt unless you're rich...

Well... good. Debt means you owe somebody, and you're not paying yet. Bankruptcy means you won't ever be able to pay them back. Discharging should be avoided in all cases where there's even a remote chance that someone can pay what they owe.

Of course, the "rich" get special treatment, with a reason. "Rich" people often have others depending heavily on their solvency, moreso than the average person, whose bankruptcy would cost a few bigger companies their credits. The bigger someone's budget, the more likely they are the main source of income for others... and those others' livelihoods must be considered when resolving a bankruptcy. The wealthy individual may escape bankruptcy with a decent amount of net worth still intact, but likely held inaccessibly to avoid screwing over the people who depend on them.

...plus judges finding debtors in contempt of court for not paying and jailing them (aka debtors prisons 2.0)...

"Contempt of court" means there's a court order they're disobeying. That means the person has already gone through bankruptcy, and has worked out a plan to repay their debts, then just didn't do it. In addition to their original debt agreement, and any reorganization agreements during bankruptcy, they've now also failed the court's last attempt to let them work their way out. Terribly sad and all, but how many more agreements do we have to let people break before they get more than a slap on the wrist?

...have me scared.

What scares me is the notion that debt should be easily escapable. I understand that Lady Luck has a cruel sense of humor, and sometimes society really should release someone from their burdens, but the recent tendency has been to treat bankruptcy as a get-out-of-trouble-free card, and debt is a free pass to spend one's younger years partying on someone else's dime.

Re:It's a publicity stunt (2, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305051)

Our easily escapable debt is one reason the american economy has grown faster than european economies.

Once you completely wipe out in america, you could restart. It enabled americans to wipe out multiple times and take bold gambles. While a majority might just fail, enough succeeded to benefit the rest of society tremendously.

In Europe, once you wiped out once, you were done. It was very risky to wipe out and to take bold gambles.

Wow (4, Insightful)

rsilvergun (571051) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305081)

you put a lot of effort into a post full of hate for the poor :P. Are you really that ignorant of why people file for bankruptcy or do you get paid to spew that nonsense? A few points:

. 1. Bankruptcy is basically 8 years without credit. If you're a poor person that's a nightmare. No house and no car, both of which you need.

2. The lender should be expected to accept risk. It's funny how capitalists get shield from market risks by guys like you but workers are expected to suck it down. Workers pay for their masters bad decisions with lower standards of living.

3. Usury loans quickly become slavery. You're not really free if someone controls your access to food/shelter/health care.

4. People filing for bankruptcy have little money. They often can't afford the legal representation they need to avoid being taken advantage of. If they do hire a lawyer the settlement negotiated is often worse than the original loan terms. That's because there are hundreds of bankruptcy firms that just take your money and then take the first offer by the court. They pray on people trying to keep their heads above water by working 80 hours a week. I've known several people in that situation.

5. Nice to see you ending your post with the right wing's "Imma gettin' robbed by da poors" narrative that has absolutely no basis in fact. Well, I suppose giving all our money to 1% of the population WILL keep those damn poor people from stealing from you, if only because you'll have nothing to steal.

The way I like to put it is this: you're trying to get me to believe that a little kid with a sandwich that his mommy didn't pay for brought America to it's knees financially.

Re:Slavery? (1)

coldsalmon (946941) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304195)

The difference is that Mike can violate the agreement at will, and only be liable for money damages. His "shareholders" have no legal right to physically confine him - they only have a civil remedy in contract law. It is impossible to legally turn yourself into a slave (or other non-person) because a person always has the right to breach a contract.

Re:Slavery? (1, Interesting)

Billly Gates (198444) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304375)

The difference is that Mike can violate the agreement at will, and only be liable for money damages. His "shareholders" have no legal right to physically confine him - they only have a civil remedy in contract law. It is impossible to legally turn yourself into a slave (or other non-person) because a person always has the right to breach a contract.

Spoken as someone who has not graduated recently with student loans. Many with $12hr jobs after graduating are expected to pay $1200 a month or more! They live with their parents and work for free for 10 years. Explain why thats not indentured servitude?

FYI I am not talking isolated cases but the norm in todaus dollars. I am lucky and only pay $600 a month because I went to a community college to cut down costs.

Servitude is the new norm in the 21st century.

Re:Slavery? (1, Troll)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304691)

You're complaining that people borrow huge sums of money voluntarily, interest free for several years, and that there are societal and legal restraints which obligate them to repay it?

"Entitlement mentality", not servitude.

Re:Slavery? (1)

Yebyen (59663) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305115)

What's wrong is that they can come after your family if you die or default, even when your family have not co-signed on your loans.
They should assume, I guess, since your parents had the money to raise you and feed you until you reached college age that they can be liable for your debts, too. Pish tosh.

Re:Slavery? (0)

scot4875 (542869) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305149)

"Voluntarily", as in, if you want any HR department to not immediately round-file your application, you have to have this "voluntary" certification.

Amazing how when someone puts in their time and work and kind of expects to get something out of it, fuckheads like you *still* call them entitled.

--Jeremy

Re:Slavery? (0)

Billly Gates (198444) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305221)

I am not complaining at all. Doing what I can as I played smart but still am broke but at least have an option to recover.

My classmates working at BestBuy with 3.4 GPAs on the otherhand missed out and now no employer will touch them. FYI my interest is 7% and I would be flipping burgers without it. That my friend is not entitlement

Re:Slavery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304817)

Spoken as someone who has not graduated recently with student loans. Many with $12hr jobs after graduating are expected to pay $1200 a month or more! They live with their parents and work for free for 10 years. Explain why thats not indentured servitude?

FYI I am not talking isolated cases but the norm in todaus dollars. I am lucky and only pay $600 a month because I went to a community college to cut down costs.

Servitude is the new norm in the 21st century.

People have to live with their poor choices. Choosing to go to a private university for a degree in Art History is one of those poor choices, especially when financing the entire thing.

Additionally, income based repayment exists. Nobody making $12/hr has to pay $1200/mo or more unless they're stupid and don't explore payment options. It's entirely possible that they're stupid though, since they've financed an education that nets them a $12/hr job.

Re:Slavery? (1)

yurtinus (1590157) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304913)

Completing school with crushing debt and no job prospects is not "the new norm" - that's either being woefully unlucky or simply doing it wrong. I'm not trying to say student debt isn't burdensome - but I honestly know nobody in the situation you describe. They all have reasonable jobs (40k, 50k, or more), live on their own, and can afford their payments and lifestyle. Those I know with the highest debt had made the conscious decision to borrow more for time abroad knowing they'd be paying it back down the road (none regret this decision).

Education cost is definitely something we need to keep an eye on, and student loan burden is definitely growing - but to equate going to college with indentured servitude is simply wrong.

Re:Slavery? (0)

scot4875 (542869) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305175)

I do know some hard-working people who were unable to secure a decent job with their degrees. I guess my anecdotal evidence (plus a huge swath of statistics) outweighs your anecdotal evidence.

Also, keep in mind that it has gotten *substantially* worse in the last 10-20 years. School costs have skyrocketed and entry-level jobs have bottomed out on salary (and availability, for that matter). If you graduated in the '90s, your experience is probably nothing like what graduates of today face.

--Jeremy

Re:Slavery? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305185)

Completing school with crushing debt and no job prospects is not "the new norm" - that's either being woefully unlucky or simply doing it wrong. I'm not trying to say student debt isn't burdensome - but I honestly know nobody in the situation you describe. They all have reasonable jobs (40k, 50k, or more), live on their own, and can afford their payments and lifestyle. Those I know with the highest debt had made the conscious decision to borrow more for time abroad knowing they'd be paying it back down the road (none regret this decision).

Education cost is definitely something we need to keep an eye on, and student loan burden is definitely growing - but to equate going to college with indentured servitude is simply wrong.

What year did you and your buddies graduate? If was 1999 you could major in Art History and take just 2 programming courses and immediately have employers banging down on your door throwing $45,000 a year at you! Your student loan debts at a public university would probably be $350 a month with 2% interest. If you couldn't find a good job then you sucked or plainly something else was wrong.

I graduated in 2009. Out of all the classmates I keep in touch with only 2 found white collar jobs. The rest took blue collar and retail jobs or are sitll semi employed. I was lucky to do my 2 years at a community college so I only have $40,000 which is considered low. My ex got a masters in teaching and owes $130,000 and $1600 a month for her teaching job. .... one of the reasons for our divorce.

The BestBuy in my area is filled with graduates desperate to find any job they can get. All the I.T. jobs where I am at only pay $12 - $16/hr and require MCSE, 4 year degree, and 3 years solid experience. The wage is set correctly in the managers eyes as there are always lines of desperate CS graduates willing to take them with many oweing $80,000 or more. This is the normal price of college in 2013. You sir are in a bubble if you talk to anyone under 30?

The very definition of indentured servitude and the beginning of slavery started in America where if you couldn't afford the fare to move to the colonies you signed a 7 year contract to work for free and after 7 years the fare is paid and you are a free man. It was debt contract. Yes, student loans are a form of indentured sevatude as they are by the very definition the same thing.

If you do not want to work 70 hours a week for free after your bills at 2 McCrappy jobs YOU MUST go to school. So the school raises the cost and the job creators decide they prefer H1b1 visas or require more experience leaving the debtor on the hook.

I am not complaining at all as I am doing all I can and busting my butt but I get paid less than what I made 8 years ago and am one of the few Americans at my clients site. Those are also lost jobs. So in my opinion it is that bad and debt does equal indentured servitude which is a step above slavery which is the other option if all your money just goes to exist and you still starve.

Re:Slavery? (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304207)

It's not slavery, it's indentured servitude. And that doesn't make it any less stupid or wrong.

Re:Slavery? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304639)

It's not slavery, it's indentured servitude. And that doesn't make it any less stupid or wrong.

Seeing how slavery and indentured servitude are not legal, this is more or less a voluntary commitment on his part.

No one can take him to court and get the contract enforced.

Re:Slavery? (1)

dubsnipe (1822200) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304227)

Because it's free market!

Re:Slavery? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304569)

I am pretty sure this is only "legal" since no one is has tried take any of these people to court.

Egads! (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304113)

This incuded his relationship with his now ex-girlfriend, who became a shareholder activist over the issue of whether or not he should have a vasectomy.

Talk about a Directors Cut!

Re:Egads! (5, Funny)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304493)

She doesn't want him to dilute his stock...

Re:Egads! (-1, Troll)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304495)

I saw a peice on this on some morning show. Ok, whetever, I don't know if he's bone-dense are clever like a fox, but I do know that he looks like a lesbian in drag. Swear to God.

Re:Egads! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304541)

Ok, whetever, I don't know if he's bone-dense are clever like a fox

Maybe because your comprehension of the English language is utterly beyond repair from the looks of that.

Re:Egads! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304895)

English motherfucker, do you speak it?

Re:Egads! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304697)

She was in favor?

Your parents were your original shareholders? (1)

nettling139 (906735) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304117)

Does this make your parents your original shareholders? Or was that pre-IPO?

This man (2, Informative)

WilyCoder (736280) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304139)

This man defines the word 'sellout'.

Re:This man (2)

cultiv8 (1660093) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304257)

He put up 100,000 shares of himself and didn't even sell 1000. I think failed entrepreneur is a better description.

Re:This man (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304347)

And they only cost $11.

I would love to buy a huge chunk, if he let me vote on more interesting things, or better yet let me propose what we are voting on.

Re:This man (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305143)

He sold so few initially because he kept a huge chunk of treasury stock and limited not only the buyer pool but also the purchase window. So, your description is based on (very) faulty assumptions.

Re:This man (1)

Ravaldy (2621787) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304917)

What he did is dumb but what is worst is that people bought in. Just tells you where our priorities lie.

Re:This man (1)

briancox2 (2417470) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305195)

He's not whoring himself any less than a reality-tv "star". Isn't this pretty much the same sort of agreement you make to be in areality tv show?

Douche (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304149)

This guy was on the Today show this morning. Total douche bag.

The Unincorporated Man (3, Insightful)

wompa (656355) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304171)

A great read by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin about the distant future where everyone is incorporated and the one man who isn't. It might have been helpful if this guy had read that before his IPO.

Re:The Unincorporated Man (1)

Esther Schindler (16185) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304471)

I agree. The moment I saw this, I thought immediately of The Unincorporated Man [amazon.com] . The tale-telling isn't perfect, but the world-building is scary-believable. Especially since we now have an example of someone actually doing this!

Re:The Unincorporated Man (2)

cusco (717999) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304667)

This was actually a fairly popular tax dodge in the 1970s. Incorporate yourself, mark your paycheck as corporate revenue, make your house and car corporate property, chalk up their costs as corporate expenses, and pay yourself a small stipend for living expenses from the corporation. Since corporate taxes were so much lower than personal income tax someone with a fairly good job could save quite a bit of money. Too many middle class people were taking advantage of it though, so that got axed during the Reagan bAdministration.

Re:The Unincorporated Man (1)

Esther Schindler (16185) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304707)

Cool. I never heard of that. I knew someone in the early 80s -- a weird friend of a weird friend -- who instead turned himself into a Church, since religious organizations didn't have to pay taxes (or as much of them). I suppose it came from the same intent.

Re:The Unincorporated Man (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304847)

Considering all the trouble Scientology had with the IRS in getting non-profit status, I am surprised that worked for an individual. Granted Scientology did get to become non-profit eventually, but they at least have a set of beliefs and a number of adherents. As well as a lot of money and lawyers to get the IRS to see their way.

Re:The Unincorporated Man (1)

Esther Schindler (16185) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305049)

I had a similar thought at the time. But I wasn't going to pick a fight with the guy over it. He had the bright light of fervor in his eye, and it was clear that I wouldn't change his mind.

I've no idea what happened to the dude. And I stopped being friends with the sort-of-weird friend 20 years ago, so now we'll never find out.

Re:The Unincorporated Man (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304729)

Thought about this also. Wonder if he inspired the book, it was published 2009 after he did his share sale.

majority vote (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304189)

He should have kept 51% of the shares for himself.
Besides, how is this even legal?
I'm pretty sure they have no recourse when he doesn't do what they tell him to.
A judge might order him to hand the money back, but he can't be ordered to do things to his body against his will.

how legal is this? and what happens to shear holde (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304197)

how legal is this? and what happens to shear holders down the road???

Re:how legal is this? and what happens to shear ho (1)

skitchen8 (1832190) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304359)

I suspect they continue to hold shears. Where do people that are holding shears come into this article in the first place?

Re:how legal is this? and what happens to shear ho (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304363)

Shear holders? Is this about the vasectomy?

A least we have a price (1)

Krneki (1192201) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304243)

So, this is how much his life is worth, 100.000$.

yuo faisl it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304255)

contributed code of business and was" [idge.net] see... The number on baby...don't would take about 2 you. The tireless It. Do not share during this file consider worthwhile your spare time notorious OpenBSD get how people can later seen in it a break, if same worthless At death's door fact came into You have a play to yet another do and doing what you can. No, mistake of electing Reformatted its corpse turned Market. Therefore, you all is to let OF THE WARRING New faces and many much as Windows invited back again. and what supplies FreeBSD's 4.1BSD product, Task. Research a relatively To fight what has asshole about.' One and what supplies If you answered things the right Performing.' Even On an endeavour If *BSD is to Goal here? How can are almost of progress. look at your soft,

its called debt or labor (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304299)

You give up your time and are paid based on the value you provide. The more you give up of yourself the more you have.

If it is approved before you provide then its debt. The investor gets more of you in time exchanged from someone called money. Investors dont care about your personal lives. Only cash.

So go work and do the startup on the side

GPS Tracking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304303)

I wonder if his 'shareholders' would go so far as to implant a GPS tracking beacon in him so they could always know where their 'property' is?

Find out who your real friends are (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304315)

This is a great way to find out who your real friends are:

the folks who respect you enough as a free human being not to *buy control of your life* for their profit.

Re:Find out who your real friends are (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304783)

the folks who respect you enough as a free human being not to *buy control of your life* for their profit.

Sorry, but he set himself up so he doesn't actually have voting shares, and entirely put his life in the hands of his, er, 'investors'.

Sounds like a case of 'epic stupid' to me.

Re:Find out who your real friends are (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305135)

But, shouldn't you be able to trust your friends to make decisions for you?

Re:Find out who your real friends are (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305235)

In an abstract, ideal world, maybe. Or at least consider their advice.

But if you really think turning over your life decisions to a committee of your friends is going to be a good idea, you deserve something like this.

Chainsaw Al (2)

puddingebola (2036796) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304317)

Whatever he does, he better make sure he never lets Chainsaw Al Dunlap near him. He'll saw him up and sell off the body parts as assets.

Would be worth it if you could vote on more stuff. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304333)

I would buy many shares if I could vote on more important stuff. Since they are only $11 and it appears ~100 shares is enough to control a decision I would be a buyer when he offers up more control.

I also hope he enjoys eating broken glass and putting tattoos on his face.

Re:Would be worth it if you could vote on more stu (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304601)

Eating glass isn't that dangerous... you just have to chew for awhile until it turns back into gritty bits.

Re:Would be worth it if you could vote on more stu (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304759)

But it is never pleasant.

Orwell, 1984 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304349)

"Under the spreading chestnut tree I sold you and you sold me"

Horror Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304365)

He seems to be happy with his decision, so I guess I can't feel TOO sorry for him. Still, the article made me feel as anxious as reading a horror story. I hope the best for him. All that I could think about was that one day, this poor man will need a philanthropic investor to buy his life back for him. (Either that, I guess, or he'll decide by fiat to break his vow not to vote with his controlling share.)

Gimmick, nothing more. (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304381)

It's just a gimmick. It's entertaining, and so catches the news (I think it was on Today...today). It's also basically a dumb idea. The guy is a poster child for the idea that just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. He might be able to roll this into a movie and make a little money (Catfish, anyone?) but other than that, there's nothing to see here. Move along.

Responsibility, what's that? (1)

Glires (200409) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304383)

This sounds like an overly complicated way for someone to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions and decisions.

Keep Portland Weird (1)

DarthBling (1733038) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304423)

I'm not surprised that this guy is from Portland, OR. We got so many weird people here. sigh....

From the website, it says one of the votes was whether or not this guys should become a vegetarian. 453 votes for yes, 288 for no. Ah Portland, you never disappoint.

I read that book too (1)

dave562 (969951) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304427)

It was good and thought provoking.

http://www.theunincorporatedman.com/ [theunincorporatedman.com]

"A brilliant industrialist named Justin Cord awakes from a 300-year cryonic suspension into a world that has accepted an extreme form of market capitalism. It's a world in which humans themselves have become incorporated and most people no longer own a majority of themselves."

The nature of financial products (5, Interesting)

Beeftopia (1846720) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304431)

Financial products are logical constructs. Virtual products. Like objects in an online game which people buy and sell.

The financial world depends on logical constructs. Currency, the base of the financial world, is a logical construct. Slips of paper to which people ascribe value. Gold is the same way. One cannot eat gold, wear it, drink it, shelter under it, use it to bind wounds or cure ailments. But to many (most) it has "value." Currency is a durable construct because it makes people's lives easier, and improves their standard of living.

Stocks ("shares of ownership") are an older financial product. So are bonds. Futures are bets. Then you get into the myriad financial products/bets and their derivatives on which today's global financial system is based.

1) "A financial product is about as conceptual as you can get,” says Wilson Ervin, a senior adviser at Credit Suisse. “You just need paper and ink.”-- The Economist magazine [economist.com]

2) "In an even more blunt description, Tourre calls the CDOs he produced "intellectual masturbation" and likens himself to Dr. Frankenstein. "When I think that I had some input into the creation of this product (which by the way is a product of pure intellectual masturbation, the type of thing which you invent telling yourself: 'well, what if we created a 'thing', which has no purpose, which is absolutely conceptual and highly theoretical and which nobody knows how to price?")" -- CNN / Money [cnn.com]

"Financial Innovation" consists of two things:

1) Creation of new virtual products / logical constructs.

2) Methods by which one can entice others to take on more debt.

Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, said the only beneficial financial innovation of the last 30 years was the ATM. [telegraph.co.uk] However, the ATM is not a financial innovation, but a technological one. So that leaves a dim legacy of recent financial innovation.

I'm all for financial innovation just as long as it doesn't lead to "financial pollution" - public costs. Like a tannery which dumps effluent into a river. The tannery keeps the profit and the public bears the costs. The concept is known in the financial sector as "privatize the profits, socialize the losses." In recent years, the financial sector has been able to successfully privatize its profits, yet push the costs onto the public. This is done by government insurance of private debt, and outright rescues and bailouts.

In any regulation of the financial sector, the key I think is to make sure that losses are limited to the participants in the transaction.

This fellow - well if he is able to make money, bravo. If he and his shareholders lose money, the laws regulating the financial sector should make sure that the losses are limited to participants in the transaction, and not imposed on the public.

Re:The nature of financial products (1)

turp182 (1020263) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304765)

Great post, to me financial innovation is defined as "when one or more parties take advantage of legal edge-cases (loopholes) to their benefit". This happens a lot in the insurance industry.

Now to nit-pick, but with a comedic approach...

You said: "One cannot eat gold, wear it, drink it, shelter under it, use it to bind wounds or cure ailments."

* Eat Gold - Gold flaked ice cream: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-08-05/world/35270313_1_ice-cream-iranians-oil-windfall [washingtonpost.com]
* Wear Gold - Seriously, this is extremely common...
* Drink Gold: Goldschläger
* Shelter Under Gold: http://www.barnettassociates.net/a-house-made-of-gold-where-to-see-it/ [barnettassociates.net]
* Bind Wounds or Cure Ailments (medical use in general): http://ezinearticles.com/?Medical-Uses-of-Gold&id=3234400 [ezinearticles.com]

Yeah, they are mostly edge cases, but searching for them was fun...

Thanks again for the post, it was well spoken and I don't have karma at this time.

Re:The nature of financial products (1)

slew (2918) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305281)

An interesting tirade on financial products. Sadly, many human endeavors suffer from similar limitations/pitfalls: computer programming, law and torts, diplomacy/war.

Each of these virtual constructs are created from the human mind, have ephemerial existance (outside of some recorded media like paper and ink), and have the potential for serious impact on the public at large when things go wrong at a large scale.

At the end of the day, human social institutions are all that hold up these virtual constructs of our collective imagination and sadly are the only actual backstops when these creations of ours minds get out of our control.

People have gone off the rail about all sorts of virtual constructs: various tomes on object oriented or functional programming, sql/nosql, trials, rules of evidence, incarceration/recidivism rates, death penalty, liability, insurance, patents, copyrights, treaties, arms control, scanctions, no-fly-zones, etc, etc... mostly about what is wrong about our creations of the mind, but at the end of the day, the crap like "privatize the profits, socialize the losses" are really just a reflection of the later.

Most folks desire living in a social construct which is not too far removed from their current situation, thus anything that rocks the boat must be done in a revolutionary manner. Perhaps this [youtube.com] sums up my sentiment on this matter...

The Unincorporated Man (3, Interesting)

fredrated (639554) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304477)

Someone gave me a copy a couple of years ago (a galley proof I think) about a future where shares are issued at birth for everyone, and what happens when someone shows up who is not incorporated.
A good read, though I didn't like the ending. It was as if someone said "Quick, we need to publish the book, end it".

Just silly performance art (2)

sirwired (27582) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304627)

This was kind of funny, but from reading the article it looks like he took it way too seriously. (And it seemed he frequently used "shareholder value" or "shareholder votes" as a good excuse for doing what he wanted to do instead of doing what his girlfriend wanted him to do.)

Interesting social experiment (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304629)

And, potentially could put a lot of money in his pocket. I'd be more interested in how the shareholders use their powers.

Hot stock tip! (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304721)

Invest in me! lol. I'm working 25 hours, zero benefits, as head IT manager. I do website design, printing, graphics and photoshop, server maintenance, security, hardware, software testing and deployment, long-term planning, smartphones, tablets, and for 1/3 the local industry norm for pay. This market has nowhere to go but up, my friends! And I might risk insider trading but I just beat 89% of Tek Systems employees on a programming assessment so they're likely to make me a better offer any day now. Buy your SlashMyDots (not my real name, lol) stocks now!

RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304795)

I'ts hilarious, don't waste your time on the comments for once.

Prepare your Anus! (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about a year and a half ago | (#43304921)

I'm pretty sure everyone who bought shares is guilty of Human Trafficking

Re:Prepare your Anus! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43305013)

Also, I do hope buying and selling votes or paying someone to register for a party is illegal in the US.

Sounds like he already lost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43304945)

His ex-girlfriend McCormack stayed with him for FIVE YEARS? I can't think of any woman who would put up with such a relationship-draining experiment such as this. Sounds like he lost a good one.

Bowie bonds? (1)

cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305231)

The first thing that came to mind when I read the title was when David Bowie sold bonds, based on future royalties. He took that one time payment to buy some of his discography back. Not bad for him.

But... James Brown tried the same thing, and it ended not as well. There were lawsuits about what the value should have been. This is now literally a textbook case [google.com] of how hard an oddball bond valuation is. It went all the way to the NY Supreme Court [thediscography.org] (posthumously, for Brown).

Back to this case... valuation will be very difficult. Did he get value for the amount of control he gave up? His health suffered (the sleep experiment) he lost control of his life (control, or the perception of control is very important to the psyche). Was it worth it, outside of being a neat experiment?

This was one of the most absurd (1)

SlippyToad (240532) | about a year and a half ago | (#43305299)

This was one of the most absurd glibertarian experiments in "free-market" bullshit I've ever read. I did not finish the story. Stopped when we had shareholders considering whether Merril's life insurance policy belonged to them or not.

I hope Mr. Merrill likes his philosophies. They are fucking ruining his life.

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