TODAY   |  March 28, 2013

One-man IPO: Man sells shares in his own life

Mike Merrill is running his life like a business, literally. He has 320 shareholders who each have a stake in making his personal decisions for him, like whether he should go on a diet and if they approve of his girlfriend. He joins the TODAY team to talk about his experience.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> 8:12 with an interesting question. would you let total strangers decide who you date and what you wear? in a moment, we'll meet a guy who sold stock in himself. he now has shareholders. but first.

>> five years ago, mike merrill started a new company.

>> this is where you work?

>> yes.

>> he named it kmikem after his full name. he's even got a theme song . but this business is different from any other.

>> i'm a publicly traded person.

>> he is the company. 320 shareholders own shares of him buying and trading of a private market and set-up online. claire evans is a friend who bought in.

>> every major thing he goes through, every major fork in the road in his life i'm invested in and participate in.

>> reporter: what investors are really buying is his future value . the right to weigh in on his professional life and the personal decisions that affect it.

>> anything that i would normally ask my friends about, those are the things i'm going to ask my shareholders about.

>> reporter: his shareholders, half of whom are strangers vote on proposals that mike submits. a proposal to wear only brook's brothers clothing, approved. to switch political parties, approved.

>> did you want to register as a republican before you put it to a vote?

>> i have always been a democrat.

>> and other more intimate proposals, as well.

>> you asked your shareholders if you should get a vasectomy.

>> yeah, and it did not pass.

>> but the proposal to date his girlfriend did pass.

>> we would go on a date, he would write a report about it and that would go out to shareholders.

>> she is now a shareholder too. they've been together six months and their relationship contract is up for board renewal soon.

>> all of your friends and family are secretly judging your relationship and how it works. say, hey --

>> publicly.

>> the goal, mike says is to get to the best version of him, or at least what his shareholders think that should be. for today, nbc news, portland, oregon.

>> and apparently there was no vote necessary for mike to join us this morning. mike, good to see you.

>> good to see you.

>> i had a huge smile on my face when i was reading about you last night. is this all a gag? or is there some legitimate portion of this?

>> i would argue it's all legitimate. i've been doing it for five years. this is how i make those big decisions.

>> but i get letting your friends weigh in. let them become shareholders. the part that makes me queasy here is when you let total strangers buy in. how do you know they're not going to push you in a direction just to mess you up?

>> if i found this project online, i would want to participate. so i feel like it's like a beacon for like-minded people.

>> how will they know what's best for you and their investment?

>> that's a good question. a out love my life is out there online. i think a lot of it they can research and find out for themselves.

>> let's go recap some of the decisions the shareholders have made for you. they turned down that vasectomy, good for them. voted against a strict no-meat diet. approved your girlfriend and gave the okay for you to move in with her. on your website, you call yourself a high-risk investment. do you worry about disappointing people?

>> i don't think so. i worry about disappointing myself because i have all those people behind me. and i think they hold me to a really high bar . and i have to work to achieve that level.

>> do you retain some sort of majority share of the stock? can you override their decisions if you think it places you in peril?

>> if i did do that, i imagine my stock price would plummet because there'd be no trust in the company in me.

>> they can make you do anything, basically?

>> yeah.

>> your stock price was $12.80 yesterday, you worth $12.80 a share?

>> i hope to be soon.

>> your dad and two brothers invested in you.

>> yep.

>> your mom did not, ouch. why?

>> my mom, i think probably like a lot of people would agree you you shouldn't necessarily value a person's influence on your life in a monetary way.

>> recently you asked the shareholders if you should renew your relationship with your girlfriend who is lovely, she's right here. 91% said yes, 9% were against it. she's an overwhelming favorite. what are the long-term prospects for this joint venture ?

>> well, after moving in together, there's a lease so our next relationship instead of three-month segments, we'll probably have to expand.

>> that's very serious. good luck, will you keep us posted on how your shareholders decide your life will turn out?

>> yes.

>> thanks very much.