Bitcoin And The Rise Of The Individual Coin Offering

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By Jefferson Nunn Contributor

Technological advancements are constantly reshaping society. Personal computers, the internet, and blockchain are just a few instigators of major changes in the way business and personal interactions take place. This article takes a peek into the projects of a couple of tech-minded individuals that are redefining what it means to invest in oneself.

I spoke with Mike Merrill of and Andrew Vernon of, both of whom have elected to be guinea pigs for experiments that push the boundaries of investing. Though their respective experiments differ greatly, both are fascinating studies in what the future of business could hold.

Payment In Personal Tokens  


Trading time for money is nothing new. Trading time for cryptocurrency isn’t even new. However, creating a personal token that can be redeemed for one’s time and effort isn’t exactly commonplace. Vernon, a digital product designer, developed DappBoi after spending a year or so in the blockchain and cryptocurrency arena.

Vernon’s personal token is an ethereum based crypto called BOI. There are 100 existing tokens, about 20 tokens of which Vernon has already sold. BOI derives its value from Vernon himself, as each token is worth an hour of Vernon’s consulting or design work.

At first glance, this may not sound revelatory, but put into an investment context, it gets pretty interesting. In a recent interview, Vernon explained how token purchasers are making

“a speculative bet on my performance as a human being because they’ve essentially taken a token that is worth an hour of my time and they’re free to kind of sit on that and hold on to that for a while. And because my attention is being tokenized and it’s in the form of an ERC20 ethereum token, it can be sold on secondary markets so the free market can kind of decide on the true value of my time.”

In other words, purchasers aren’t just buying an hour of Vernon’s attention. If the market decides the value of BOI is higher, a token holder could sell BOI tokens at a profit. Alternatively, if tokens are purchased at Vernon’s current hourly rate and held for a few years, they could increase in value. Vernon would continue gaining experience and refining his skills in that time, allowing him to command a higher hourly rate. Thus, the token holder is still entitled to an hour of Vernon’s time per token, effectively getting his expertise at a bargain rate.

I plan to redeem the BOI token I purchased soon. The purchase on DappBoi was pretty easy. I first purchased ethereum using an exchange and then sent it to my Meta mask address. From there, I connected my Meta mask to the DappBoi website and bought 1 BOI. It cost 0.65 Ether. This entitles me to an hour of Vernon’s time. Once Vernon completes the hour, I can redeem the 1 BOI for 1 hour of work.

Vernon mentioned that he’s not the only one to test the waters of self-tokenization and stated that there are many people experimenting from different angles. While Vernon’s experiment involves selling his time, Merrill is selling something entirely different.

The First Publicly Traded Person

KmikeyM describes itself as “a personal decision making engine modeled after a stock market.” As Merrill put it in a recent interview with me, “I’m selling choice. I put my decisions up for a vote.” Decisions up for vote have ranged from whether Merrill can watchsuperhero movies, whether he should date, and whether an ex-girlfriend should sell her shares.

Shareholder votes are weighted in relation to how many shares one holds. Theoretically, a shareholder with a large number of shares could radically influence the course of Merrill’s life. After purchasing 13 shares, I’m officially a shareholder—one with a modest vote. To get those shares, I purchased the PDF with a credit card for $75. Once the $75 was loaded, I was able to buy 13 shares and still have a small balance left.

Merrill hasn’t relinquished total control of his future to shareholders, however. In 2017, he disappointed many shareholders with a decision to relocate—a decision he did not put up for a vote. In response to the disappointment, he stated “The relationship between the shareholders and the publicly-traded person is not perfect but it’s always evolving.”

Certainly there’s no playbook to follow for being a publicly traded person. Nor is there a playbook for holding shares in a human being. I haven’t decided whether I’ll throw my modest 13 shares into the decision making arena. I could easily sell my shares for about the same price for which I bought them, but for now, I’m invested in the experiment.

Cryptocurrency And The Future Of Publicly Traded People

In Vernon’s opinion, cryptocurrency offers a “big opportunity for internet influencers and celebrities to begin to tokenize themselves.” He explained that people with “incredibly strong personal brands” and an internet-savvy fan base are in a good position to be successful with tokenization.

It is pretty easy to imagine internet influencers publicly trading themselves as well. However, Merrill’s road to building a marketplace that supports such trading was not an easy one. In contrast, Vernon described his experience of tokenizing himself as fairly painless given that Ethereum already existed.

It gives rise to the question of whether crypto could merge with the public trading of individuals. In Merrill’s opinion, it’s not likely anytime soon. He stated, “I’m not sure crypto makes it easier yet, unless you’re a very technically minded person, and you want only technically minded shareholders.” He hasn’t made a push to transition to crypto and doesn’t expect to anytime soon “based almost entirely on the problem of adding complexity for the end users.”

Note: I do not recommend the purchase, sale or holding of any stock or cryptocurrency. I am a holder of Bitcoin.


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