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Selling Yourself: Publicly Traded Portland Man Lets Shareholders Run His Life

Mike Merrill and his girlfriend/shareholder.
NBC
Mike Merrill and his girlfriend/shareholder.

Five years ago, Mike Merrill decided to take stock of his life by letting others actually buy stock in his life.

"I am a publicly traded person. So I sell shares of myself, and then allow my shareholders to guide me in my life decisions," Merrill told the "Today" show.

He started a company that allows the public to make his major life decisions, including who to date, his exercise program and whether to get a vasectomy. (A majority of shareholders voted no on the delicate surgery.)

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The company, KmikeyM, comes from his full name, Kenneth Michael Merrill.

He has a logo, a theme song and 320 shareholders who can buy and trade shares in him on a private market he set up online.

Currently he's going for about $12.80 per share, down from his all-time high of $20 in June.

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Claire Evans, one of Merrill's friends, is a stockholder. "Every major thing that he goes through, every fork in the road, I am invested in and participate in," she said.

What investors are really buying is his future value, the right to weigh in on professional projects and the personal decisions that impact them.

"Anything that I would normally ask my friends about, I've decided those are the things that I'm going ask my shareholders about," Merrill said. They let him wear Brooks Brothers. They told him to switch parties and register as a Republican. And they are letting him date his current girlfriend— but only after he wrote a report on the first date and submitted it to shareholders as an action item.

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"So we would go on a date, he would write a report about it and that would go out to shareholders," Marijke Dixon confirmed. She is now a shareholder, too. They've been together six months and their relationship contract is up for renewal soon.

Merrill told his story to The Atlantic magazine, which said he was putting the "I" in IPO.

Asked on "Today" if it's all for real, Merrill said yes. "It's all legitimate. "I've been doing it for five years."

And even if the shareholders vote for something nutty, Merrill says he's game, and will not reject their wishes. "If I did do that, I imagine my stock would plummet."

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